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Statues, Michel Serres (translated by Randolph Burks)
Rome, Michel Serres (translated by Randolph Burks)
Times of Crisis, Michel Serres (translated by Anne-Marie
Eyes, Michel Serres (translated by Anne-Marie Feenberg-Dibon)
The Five Senses, Michel Serres (translated by Margaret Sankey and
Peter Cowley)

The Third Book of Foundations

Michel Serres
Translated by Randolph Burks

Bloomsbury Academic
An imprint of Bloomsbury Publishing Plc

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First published in English 2017

Originally published in French as Les origines de la géométrie: tiers livre des

Michel Serres © Editions Julliard, Paris, 1995

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English language translation © Bloomsbury Publishing Plc, 2017

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ISBN: HB: 9781474281409
ePDF: 9781474281393
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Series: Foundations

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For Roberto Berardi .

vi .

CONTENTS The origins of geometry  ix The universal: One of its first constructions  x The differences: Chaos in the history of science  xv Synthesis: The science of history  xxxii PART ONE  CUSTOMS AND LAWS 1 1 First in history: Anaximander  3 Spaces without exclusion: Juridical origins  3 2 First in the rite: The royal victim  37 Spaces of exclusion: Political origins  37 3 First in dialectic: The interlocutor  71 Spaces of exclusion: Discursive origins  71 4 The point at noon  93 PART TWO  NATURE 95 5 First in history: Thales  97 From the pyramid to the tetrahedron: The optical origin  97 .

From Diogenes to Thales: The ethical origin  114 From the sun to the earth: The astronomical origin  130 6 First in philosophy: The ignorant slave boy  161 From Pythagoras to Zeno: The algorithmic origin  161 7 First in logic: The element  177 The automatic origin and the return to sociopolitical origins  177 PART THREE  CONCLUSION 191 8 The measurement of the earth: Herodotus  193 Notes  213 viii   Contents .

Where and when did this Geometry appear then? In Greece. the sphere … and of reasoning about them rigorously. What can be said that’s new about such extraordinary and unexpected beginnings? Finding such hidden origins requires first reflecting on time. Lastly writing the beginning of the history of science obliges us to seek. It has taken thirty-five years for its author to make their answers clear. tried to treat illnesses. exactly twenty-six centuries ago. to start with. followed a calendar. Babylon. Egypt? In the world and throughout history all cultures more or less have kept accounts. Why? How? There are so few answers to these questions that many a historian has spoken of a miracle to qualify such a rare event. known a few numbers. A single one had the idea of representing forms such as the square. This book examines all these questions. the circle. observed the movements of the heavens. uncov- ering the origins of Geometry requires showing where its space comes from.THE ORIGINS OF GEOMETRY Where and when does science appear? In China. a science of history. Michel Serres .

difference ends up imposing itself in turn as a universal dogma that everywhere and always forbids speaking forever and everywhere. We had thought we’d die from totalization. Is it only the local that can be expressed globally? This law without justice forgets geometry. But by some perverse paradox. here it is that we can perish from splitting up. The respective dangers of the universal and of differences For knowing the differences. Dominant. others. for at least a half-century. the social sciences during this period of time taught us not only to love one another but to recognize and respect the rights of cultures.THE UNIVERSAL: ONE OF ITS FIRST CONSTRUCTIONS In a violent but just reaction against perverse ancient ideas preaching a universal that’s almost always reducible to an imperialistic and invading domination. We must be grateful to them for having opened up these varied multiplicities. wanting to content ourselves with them and not overstep boundaries didn’t bring us peace: in the name of these same differences twenty wars are flaring and raging today in singular localities of the world. Might it be universal like geometry? . bringing as many misfortunes to men as the imperialist conflicts generalized to the entire world brought to our youth. have rumbled with our differences. our discourses. sexes. Everything happens as though violence was equitably dividing up its ravages. languages and customs. genders.

communications … were constructing a new universe. linked together by habitat. a third moment appears to thought. our law. and fraternity: touched several times. or vehicle planet. whereas we cease- lessly prophesy difference in becoming de facto citizens of the world. England several decades. and by both together when they forget the humanities. The community of mankind grows. America a few years. the limits of the objective world obligate us to the solidarity of being embarked on the same boat. one where the differences drawn on the globe or the map. fate. moral. Rome for centuries. close via exchanges of every order: the local often lapses into the folklore for sale to distracted tourists. those Harlequin cloaks. So while we were thinking universal humanism we were living in separated paving blocks. What new earth do we have to measure?1 The third time and the new map With the formation of this universe. invading For attaining finite globality changes the old and constant question of dominance. delocalized. island.The universe To the political. seen at leisure in its entirety. whether individual or collective. when they ignore the exact sciences. While we were obediently repeating a dogma taken from sciences that were soft enough for us to doubt their relevance. In the past we feared the expansion of some local power or culture and the conquests of its empire: so let’s tally up that Egypt ruled for millennia. whereas during my childhood the village in which I was born was unaware of the provincial capital. the harder sciences. its neighbor. a strange blindness is added about what has been happening around us since the beginning of this same half-century. and historical errors committed by the social or human sciences regarding man. in constant connection with friends at enormous distances. how many for Japan …? In those eras of diminishing returns the universal was reduced to the invasion of global space by an ambitious and cruel locality: THE UNIVERSAL: ONE OF ITS FIRST CONSTRUCTIONS   xi . Yokohama and San Francisco neighbor Paris today. mix by combining the ancient diverse paving blocks so as to strive toward the white of Pierrot’s costume … … a plane or volume of a geometry? Dominating.

So we remember geometry. Whatever the linguistic. whether solitary or in groups. white adds up and combines all the hues. nor did it contribute. without dominance. it shows the universal. is objectively imposed on that former xii   THE UNIVERSAL: ONE OF ITS FIRST CONSTRUCTIONS . difference as dogma collapses. reason and will demonstrate in the same way when it’s a question of measuring the diagonal of the square. Measure and reason When. universality was. No critique. Conversely. The first construction of a universal For the construction of a universal without war or dominance happened several times already: this book gives a beloved example of this. religious. therefore to negotiations whose mixtures and cross-breedings will free us from the uniformity imposed in the past by the victory of one singular color over the others. to spreading their customs across the whole world: pure demonstration expands without one difference alone taking the place of the others. economic or cultural power of the peoples who invented it. at least. a recent event that condemns us to peace under pain of a complete and collective death. Here. no culturalism will succeed in relativizing the evidentness or necessity of geometry. and will still be for a long time the exception to the ancient and recent orthodoxy of universal difference. The metric of a new land. They unite without opposing. strong or weak. and relativism arrives at the emptiness of nihilism through the generalization of regional conflicts. rest assured that all of them. teach that men. the thought or language of mathematics didn’t spread every- where nor did it always endure due to the military. different from all the places listed or named up till then. measure and the reason that demonstrates it remain. economic or military differences that separate peoples may be. to my knowledge. invariant and strong. But domination transforms as soon as we reach the physical limits of the universe. calculated. are not the measure of all things. in the midst of local violences. We have to think a new universal outside these outmoded dominances: far from annulling them. Indeed. assemble us without organizing into a hierarchy.spaces with beautiful refined cultures vitrified by the implosion of the bomb and made ugly through the multiplication of crude images.

source or debut. even though it has since been said that this geometry of land surveyors was only born from constituting the boundaries of such plots. what land then in other words does geometry measure? What does geometry measure? For by its name and its title. Which one? This differentiated small plot of land where the ancestors of a people repose and that generations of pious peasants have plowed beneath the mortuary effigy of their pagan gods? No. inform. a new universe. What a blow to collective and cultural narcissisms! Thinker of difference. to any known land. its iron scorn for slaves and foreigners. improbable. to obey a demonstrated metric. whether of the Orient or the Occident. Yet geometry cannot be said to be Greek. the twistings of our tongues. of course. across several Ionian islands or shores. it claims to measure an earth. and rare that it stops the entire life of a philosopher since. the declensions of its languages and the twistings of its olive trees … this is an event in turn so contradictory. that invented this universal one fine almost datable day despite or contrary to its bronze weapons. but because its language and the thoughts it gives rise to don’t refer. Babylonian. its aristocratic pseudo-freedom. THE UNIVERSAL: ONE OF ITS FIRST CONSTRUCTIONS   xiii . there. we’re constrained to obey something other than ourselves. wedged between land and water. Egyptian. either in meaning or in time. without being attached to any root or flowering from any stem? Abandoning all assignable reference. here we have a local culture. completely different from all our differences. exclusively human. to beginnings. according to the color of our skin.reference. northern or southern. A disquieting strangeness: geometry then would go back to an origin. What idealist arrogance in truth it is to think that we invent everything. its stony gods. or show. this geometry whose services we can still hire today around the land registries. the universal seems to have been born precisely from a difference. or Hindu … not because it wasn’t born here or there. in some month or other. to obey an obligation that our measures don’t dictate. whose relative and contradictory rule used to rule. Chinese. and the gesticulations of our institutions! No. from loving to measure yourself you delight in perennial war and domination: you neglect geometry! What difference constructed the universal? And yet. as singular as any other in its particular- ities.

languages. whose idea we then lost. therefore all the applications of physics. a white or transparent box that was constructed starting from the field. in order for no engraving or wrinkle to be preserved in it. of work. from the spaces of violence. signs. 1958–1992 xiv   THE UNIVERSAL: ONE OF ITS FIRST CONSTRUCTIONS . of defense and habitat to the page and the plane. infinite. built from the spaces and times of Geometry. symbols. the surface and volume. the scalene plot of land and the oval planet.2 Without any possible furrow or sowing. of prayer. infinite as well. the vernacular local or nomad global. here then is the strange land. from the Greeks on. of lustering or cleaning. a more than adamantine hardness. Every single one of us has since inhabited the most immemorial of our universes. astronomy. The planet-Earth whose global circumference Eratosthenes calculated by the shadow of the sun? Again no. notes and musics. as sharp as you’d like. the non-place where geometry was born. and a more than aquatic. geometry writes a universal language that neither engraves nor traces any mark on any medium since no figure shown on it could correspond to the one it in truth measures and proves. biology … so soft as well that it makes understood all the software of the universe. to be able to cut or incise into it. An earth without trace or mark Said in Wolof or Tamil—it makes no difference—by the peoples of the world who reason with it. so without any memory of any sojourn. New habitat. In order for no point or stylus. this new earth. chemistry. to all the varieties. the sum-earth of the acts of men whose complete purity replaced. are required for this earth whose material or special consistency causes the infinite of a maximal resistance and the infinite of a minimum of light breath to become equal in it: therefore so hard that it includes all possible hardware in the universe. I was going to say without history. aerial or ethereal softness. slowly. to the eyes of the body and the mind. our archaism The following book seeks to discover. since we call the science that draws and writes it instead: geography. the temple and the camp. rootless.

could be formed in such a way that the meaning of their development is lost as soon as the complex variety of these different flows. It has required the author’s entire life to make his answers clear. ancient and modern. networks or ranges is observed. The geometries Let’s start with the history of geometry: can we decide what this science designates? The measurement. In addition. lastly. This book therefore first and foremost answers these three questions. to start with. and so profoundly sometimes that it seems to change. of the earth. spirals of repetitions or circles of invariance. a science of history? Yes: this has held me up for thirty-five years.THE DIFFERENCES: CHAOS IN THE HISTORY OF SCIENCE Several sciences. its nature. regression or progress. ruptures through forgetting or stabilities through long preservation … Ten diverse models of stopping. that of the cultivators and masons? The archaic figures of . discrete or continuous. arable or for building. and sometimes to undergo abrupt falls. backward returns. we can’t conceive of any origin without some preliminary philosophy of time nor. several histories The history of the mathematical sciences transforms at the same time as their invention is being pursued. For this history sometimes seems to follow regular lines of expansion or growth. conceive the origins of the first geometry without shedding light on those of the space it constructed. We therefore have doubts about the meaning of the history of science: must we seek. more than its pace.

and I lose the speed of its long and particular motion. of the same language. Riemann. seen from afar. but which the historian must reconstruct as the truth of an era. so that it’s never a question of a stable figure or. figure or theorem. I might possibly speak false. in that strange and familiar theorem that demon- strates the existence of a model for all geometry in Euclid’s geometry. it happens that an expert judges one of the geometries preceding his own and which he no longer practices to be non. which the scientist forgets. this latter on the contrary can be reactivated as truth: if I speak true regarding Anaximander’s meaning. From where should we depart to rediscover the first one? From rigorous proof? Indeterminism.Pythagorean arithmetic? Those of the Chios School? The Platonic forms and ideas? The books of Euclid’s Elements? What remains of Archimedes or Apollinius? The Cartesian representation? The descriptive working drawings of the past century? The non-Euclidean reconstructions? Leibniz’s analysis situs. difficult to reduce: either I know. Historical truth can change to waste. from its first emergence to its truth of the moment. up close. the historian is interested in dross. these elements nonetheless never refer to the same system of thought. Even though invariant it seems. no doubt inherited from the earliest of the geometries. chaos So here is a principle of indeterminism or uncertainty. This indetermination has its limit in error. each geometry projects its own history in return. Consequently. transforms. within a well defined geometry. whose origin then I am rightly seeking. xvi   THE DIFFERENCES: CHAOS IN THE HISTORY OF SCIENCE . the scientist on the contrary is interested in intuitions of genius without any impact on their epoch. and Poincaré? Hilbert’s formal proofs? Contemporary algebraic geometry? The plans of the programmers of robotic movements …? The universal. Most often. into a jungle of sciences so different that the number of histories to be related would be overabundant. or I pinpoint its speed. the position of an element. and I lose its position in the science from which it takes its meaning. indetermination. perhaps. And the universal waits for us amid this jungle of differences. the triangle and its elements for example return in each of said histories.or pre-scientific: it doesn’t enter into its history. The universal and the differences Convergent nevertheless? For the diagonal and the square. all of them divergent and rooted in forgotten pasts. the topology of Euler.

The temporality proper to the system seems homogeneous. from the 1950. foliated. chaotic. here at the beginning. becomes an ordinary link in the chain there. On balance. seems aleatory from the outside. For example fibered. categories. the diagonal from the fifth century bc. but as a discontinuous and rendable framework. sets from the nineteenth century. an element does not have the same situation or the same weight or the same meaning in any system punctuating this complex flow that we were naively calling history. addition from the first millennium. Might this history be contrary to the sciences it talks about? Is this due to its exceptional situation in relation to the sciences themselves as the contact site for historical time and abstraction? Can this tangency be explored from the point of view of science. is the history of science continuous or discon- tinuous? In both cases. This indeterminism defines the history of science.if I speak true. Is it a question then of the same form or always of a different one? In general. how do we trace back to the origin? The evolution complicates to the point of being chaotic. compact spaces date from the 1940s. Despite the unpredictability every invention rightly boasts of. whose inventions by themselves form a history? Another indetermination: let’s consider a mathematics at a given moment so that each idea is expressed there at the same instant. THE DIFFERENCES: CHAOS IN THE HISTORY OF SCIENCE   xvii . the contact site of the historicity proper to the sciences and of history in the standard sense therefore remains subject to contradiction or indeterminate: the tradition doesn’t account for this exceptional and paradoxical situation. elsewhere again precisely a forgetfulness taken up again. I might speak false concerning Anaximander’s meaning. functions from the eighteenth. dating from a forgotten world. what is its meaning? Consequently. rent. integration from the seventeenth. become active once again. and so on. Each system sets up such a redistribution that this element. indeterminate. chaotic. scattered. While the traditional history of science projects the always begun again disruptions of the previous orders onto an irreversible line through new combinations of reversible sequences. reintegrated by generalization. whereas the temporality of its elements. even an abandoned bit of dross elsewhere. can this chaos be under- stood and some law found in it? The diversity of the possible conceptions of the history of science and perhaps of history in general will soon oblige us to go back over the question of time and to consider all the preceding indeterminations as linked by a systematic space that recreates all the possible chronic varieties. not as a continuous tradition.

Would a more contemporary proof of the same theorem rediscover the existence of an underlying archaic mathematics forgotten by Greek measurement. the traditional continuity. through our artificial practices. But the current scientist. xviii   THE DIFFERENCES: CHAOS IN THE HISTORY OF SCIENCE . buried. Beyond the signification of this anecdote in Platonism in the strict sense. but current mathe- matics presents the Euclid–Hilbert interval as obsolete in rending this connection again. Thanks to the chain of geometric reasons. Hilbert entered for example into direct communication with Euclid. today. to a world that’s new and ancient at the same time. and could in turn ask the ignorant to abandon as quickly as possible the theorems of the tradition. or scorned by that of the Greeks. which you will then remember. can it be taken seriously in the context of history? It brings several times into play: a tear.Greek traces of these problems Did Plato already ask himself these questions? The Meno has a demon- strative sequence concerning the diagonal of the square be reconstructed by an ignorant. who is said to have recollected it. Algorithms The situation of the Meno would then become reversed: the tradition- alist who knows Pythagoras. and follows. and this forgetfulness will lead you to a more distant origin. then a continuity re-established in such a way that the teacher and the ignorant live together in a new time of circular sum. the metric theorem. first. we therefore recollect Babylon and its abstraction. the world that we formerly had to recollect: tear up. who knows these procedures. lost. precisely forgets the Pythagorean metric and its proof in the ancient manner. is ignorant of the practice of algorithms because he has forgotten it. communication is re-established with a forgotten world. in the tradition. several types of temporality are unfolded. So. in the past. endlessly repeatable. and would it by means of a new priority dig up a covered- over origin therefore making Platonic geometry appear as a trivial metric model? For today we know how to decipher cuneiform tablets whose sexagesimal calculations resemble in a surprising manner the algorithmic procedures used by our computers. more profoundly buried. The inventive discontinuity therefore plunges more deeply than the continuity of the tradition: the idea of the algorithm preceded. he would say to him.

perpendicular heights. again. impure. or better. then the open triangle—three segments with a common vertex. poorly analyzed. Hence again the Pythagorean theorem. where we’re taking up again another good piece of history: the point. part of the parallelogram—and not the closed trilateral we incorrectly call the triangle. Does the history of geometry then recount the modalities of non-knowledge? A reversal manifests itself: suicide and shipwreck. segment. and angle. The metric diagonal was historically lived as a drama of the irrational and certain death for pure thought: we can think it as what could have been the first step of a higher rationality than Euclid’s. half of a parallelogram. at the origin. among the first expressions of metric space. from which vector addition is drawn. which in return causes the in its turn first-principle idea of the vector to rebound onto the segment and the idea of the null vector onto the point. by components and resultant. Are we traveling here a spiral time passing through an origin many times? Coming after these elements. right bisectors … thus the Timaeus triangulates the elements of the Earth— here is a new meaning for the term “geometry. THE DIFFERENCES: CHAOS IN THE HISTORY OF SCIENCE   xix . so much more profound that the former pure becomes mixed. the segment. Supposing that Euclid and his predecessors had considered the triangle to be half of a square. medians. caused a higher and more profound geometry to be born. the idea of vector space forces me to forget an entire history. seen from then on as a blindness of clear thought. the angle. by means of bisectors. they might have immediately been led to the structure of vector space. the questions of norm and scalar product push the Pythagorean theorem far along the chain as a trivial application. the diagonal ought to have occasioned a rebirth or a resurgence. So the drama changes camps: the Greek miracle becomes bad luck or a logical error. Hence this historical judgment: by proceeding in this way we could have saved more than twenty centuries of superficial analysis of space. and so on: the structure of vector space is little by little unveiled in a primary simplicity.Historical or mathematical origins? Vectors Another example: the triangle was considered by the dawn of the first Greek geometry to be the simplest spatial figure after the point. So here we are. one whose very origin would be read in the liminary scissiparity of the metric and the vectorial.” when the earth passes from the small plot to the world. Everything happens as though we were forgetting the ordinary tradition in order to situate ourselves upstream from the Greek origin. Hence the traditional richness of its analysis. via ultra-elementary triangulations.

in order to forget the normal heritage and remember a preliminary non-known. Topology necessitates forgetting the tradition and remembering a spatial constitution covered over by the equivocality of the Greek miracle. matters less. the imaginative mathematician therefore dialogues. in the Meno’s sense. Through this back analysis geometry discovers a new purity that owes nothing to measurement. the entire history of this geometry amounts to the preser- vation of an impurity. absent and lacking. and again suspends twenty centuries of equivocal tradition. So here is another historical example of geometry as a living and inventive movement. a tradition- alist historian of his own science. with an old ignorant scientist. suspends traditional language as ambiguous and practices liminary disso- ciation of non-metric purity and measurement. when the concepts were a thousand times overdetermined and. in a site that’s miraculous because arbitrary? By chance and accident the Greeks jumped onto a moving train at the moment when everything had already been decided. xx   THE DIFFERENCES: CHAOS IN THE HISTORY OF SCIENCE . in brief non-mathematical. young geometer So every invention reacts all the way back to the origins: that Pascal redis- covered Euclid. Old historian. of a certain type of non-mathematicity. but rather on topological structures. technological and applied. It again reverses our vision of the origin by turning the miracle into a scandal. designated a complex and mixed ore as being pure. We find ourselves led back to the origins here: not to the logical or historical origin. as is recounted. Often a young child. anterior to it. by miracle. perceiving them to be impure and confused. than his reinvention of geometry starting from deeper priorities. due to his linear and outdated memory. Topology Let’s begin again: let’s no longer base ourselves on vector space. Once again. How did the tradition manage to take root right in the middle of the trunk. which were Apollonian and were to become Desarguian. like him. that is to say. but to the fundamental conditions for the constitution of the forms of space.

Often in crisis. can one try to reconstitute the complex and crossed entanglement of the diverse temporal modes they present? Four ideas: the history proper to mathematics can be connected and discontinuous and be read in the direct or reverse direction. accelerated in a lightning-fast manner … Can the history of these ahistorical idealities only be understood if a complex. connected or always torn up. Here the mathematician never ceases suspending the tradition and returning to the logical and constituting origin. unforeseeable. Does the inventor control time and history? Does he invent the time of his science as well as the time of the history we’re trying to take up again after him? On a given form he reads the occulted past. or foliated temporality is conceived? So we will have to go over the question of time again. the active present and the possibilities. finely fibered. determined. exceptionally free and productive. These connections are tied and these adherences are cut at the luminous point of invention. divinely. but above all the ahistorical character of pure form makes it so that it evolves in a time that’s unpredictable. Models Skipping over the examples. in aleatory rhythms: the current invention discovers precursors.Invention and tradition Thus all won ground illuminates and occults the history of science. Not only does every promotion of a form reform its temporality. mathe- matics is always in the process of resolving it. recurrent or finalized. what then must I remember and what can I forget among my historical and mathematical knowledge? The living evolution of mathematical purity implies an original attitude. with regard to its history. or covering the latter over and reactivating the tradition. forgotten. Yes. repeated. two. In a network system whose every element ties anachronic diachronies. invention makes history: what do my ancestors matter? They will descend from me! But which of these me’s or of these discoverers am I to follow today? When I search for the origins of the first geometry. overdetermined. the living focus of mathematical historicity. ten origins. Hence four THE DIFFERENCES: CHAOS IN THE HISTORY OF SCIENCE   xxi . he cuts or reties freely. a time that’s dead. and applies an unpredictable future onto a past that’s always movable to the focal point of the new intuition. irreversible and reversible. while forgetting former origins destined to become dross. never ceases cutting or connecting intersected durations. referring to one.

because communication doesn’t suffer interference or rupture except by falling into non-mathematicity. there is no real history except that of geometry. definitely and by a lightning-fast short-circuit. the forward movement toward a mathematicity conceived as horizon give us to think an evolving form that’s connected but punctuated with stages. exceptional and no doubt paradoxical. the continued purifi- cation of its concepts. No equivalent in knowledge or historical information is known. In other words. Stages or crises The progressive extension of the mathematical field. xxii   THE DIFFERENCES: CHAOS IN THE HISTORY OF SCIENCE . by the one being taught. steps. we know without any risk of being wrong what they were thinking when they devoted themselves to apagogic proof. polarized in an irreversible way by an end and forever abandoning its origin: the act of birth or constitution starting from prehistoric archaisms would be a point of no return here. barrels of the Danaides. The more a knowledge goes toward the pure and rigorous. a limit case. In sum. this path cannot be missed. of a tradition that’s not open to misinterpretation. This continuous drawn path therefore can no longer be missed because the information remains stable in totality. Conversely. It’s impossible to skip a link along this uninterrupted linear process. stemming from the exceptional or limit form of the tradition in the mathematical sense.types of models: direct and recurrent connected ones and direct and recurrent non-connected ones. how they obeyed their laws or steered their ships …? For centuries historians haven’t much agreed about these questions. This model lastly expresses a form of continuous historicity. an almost perfect means of communication. the better it’s preserved and the more easily it transmits its unchanging contents across time. What states of affairs do these models account for? Traditional. the direct connected models would express the temporality of deduction or of rigorous linked sequences well enough. equivocations. a common conception of history that would have this connected model for support is an illusion of pure reason. How does this form of temporality interest us here? We have lost almost everything from our past: do we really know whether the Greeks believed in their gods or not. sieves of the past. for history in the ordinary sense. the always strengthening power of its methods. conversely. mathematics is entirely transmitted or not at all. or gaps. however you start. Recollection in the Meno is a reconnection or a complete taking on by the inheriter.

therefore incessantly accumulated. creating a confusion of languages such that one could think for a moment that mathematics might die from it and such that one is led to reconstruct a new base that gathers the common etymology of their languages. the constitution of new idealities. The construction of a new language for a new perfect communication.. Leibniz. it experiences stages. recuperate the totality of history in a system that’s totalizing. Endlessly needing to be redone. a system sometimes accompanied by philosophy itself: Plato and the irrationals. The path inflects because mathematization is no longer made to focus on the atoms but on the distributive totality of the disciplines. questioning the foundations. the Tower of Babel is reconstructed as soon as the new promotions can no longer use the same language among themselves or with the preceding system. once again. Gergonne. Each point of inflection is a point of inflation and of reconstruction. are ordinary attitudes of the mathematician and not only of the historian. which therefore causes mathematicity to be reborn. would systematize scattered elements. consistent and condensed. Thus Plato. the taking on of the totality of the edifice lead the scientist. which is then only a dictionary created for a new perfect communication. and the refined analysis of original elements perceived retroactively as layered. Galois. THE DIFFERENCES: CHAOS IN THE HISTORY OF SCIENCE   xxiii . Working on a common systematic base. Multiple origins Mathematics therefore wasn’t once and forever in the situation of origin. etc. This new path. The beginning and middle of our century have experienced analogous situations. Descartes and algebraic geometry. global reorganizations of a knowledge transmitted without any loss. go beyond it. as complex particular cases of elements that are even more original still. Cantor. their contempo- raries created languages. It is then necessary to reunify by means of a system. to take the whole of the path traversed up again. Cauchy. united by moments of system. all the way to the next reunification. of global reorganization. Leibniz and infinitesimal calculus … Husserl and the crisis of foundations. Thus Euclid. could no longer be missed because each stage would reorganize an overly dispersed aggregate.or crises. new universal characteristics. Abel. intervals. Questioning backwards. The starting model becomes more refined: less linear. Cauchy. etc. Leibniz. at the time of great systematic enterprises.. and so on. stratified ideas. Any synchronic cross-section in the intervals reveals the preceding system as well as new layers that aren’t part of it and aren’t integrable into it.

a world twice lost. Another example: Bourbaki’s Elements of the History of Mathematics is the mirror-image portrait of the Elements of Mathematics. as though the development of a theory only drew its effectiveness from the endless iteration of passages through the origin. it’s not enough to say that every leap forward demands rewriting the legendary review of what preceded or rectifying the entire perspective upstream with what ought to have been thought. through the geometry example selected since only mathematics furnishes the path of a lightning-fast and unequivocal communication with the origin. the projection in a diachrony of what in fact happens in the system. set theory. A giant with an origin name. the origin of mathematics ceaselessly reappears. it’s not enough to say that the history of mathematics should be dated as though by its Parian marble. We would never get to the end of repeating how many times questions have returned about the real line. Everything happens as though it was necessary to combine the direct movement of teleology and the inverse movement of recurrence into a circular. which no other historical experience can give any idea of. whose acquired xxiv   THE DIFFERENCES: CHAOS IN THE HISTORY OF SCIENCE . about zero. is the Meno: through the combining of direct progress and anamnesis. No. mathematical invention itself progresses and returns at the same time. a feeding back of the development through the source and of the source through the advance. Here again. always other and perhaps the same. the displaying in a historical genesis of the systematic deduction. And once again. at least three times. in turn. about whole numbers. returning backward doesn’t only belong to the historian. or better. lastly through the endlessly possible iteration of the process: a slave from the forgotten world remembers. which geometry has always measured. not only for the starting axioms. spiral diagram. and how many times the answers to the questions reconstructed deeper foundations. category theory … reverberate globally in the entire edifice. propagate in a lightning-fast manner down to its original bases. of group theory. and so on. often. Antaeus only regains his strength by putting his foot back on the Earth. it’s not only a question of logical or axiomatic conditions but above all of conditions of constitution: at the dawn of infinitesimal calculus no one questioned the true or the false or the legitimacy of the linked sequence. itself reconsidered by means of the methods created in the course of the extension. about the diagonal or the circle. Laid bare at every great moment of reconstruction. A continuing systematic restructuration. about equality. but in the very constitution of the idealities in question. The discoveries of infini- tesimal calculus. entirely as though the last thing constituted called into question the entirety of the constitution.

they beat small stakes. Any origin is the origin itself. So the recurrent judgment becomes judgment of application. This apparatus that’s on the site even before the foundation is dug is called the chaise: a triple base or reference. show that there is a contemporary archaeology of decisive advances. in length. it can be said to be percurrent. As a joke. whose form marks out and measures the small portion of earth to be organized. as well as some contem- porary mathematician in the living present. impure. linked by straight boards. In advancing. they show that a given advance is only decisive when it lays bare originary archaisms at the very moment it is promoted. or logical. at the limit. non-Euclidean geometries become the metrics of the physicist. width and height. These backward movements. and stairs. hardly rigorous. Desargues or Descartes in recent history. horizontal and perpendicular to each other. confused. this old THE DIFFERENCES: CHAOS IN THE HISTORY OF SCIENCE   xxv . Tears What precedes doesn’t take an essential phenomenon into account. everyone was talking about the Earth—the one from Geometry?—and about fixed stars. the successors will judge the preceding one to be in truth non-mathematical. mathematical time makes its way towards its unforeseeable horizon and its beginning. squinches. I can question Thales or Pythagoras in ancient legend. The return to originary conditions is historical. For us. A remarkable example: builders or architects never start to build without placing “chaises” or batter boards. or gnoseological. Desargues no longer appears to us to be anything but an expert in cutting stones. logical or axiomatic. but rather mathematicity in its entirety and its foundation on a world. Original. each moment is more mathematical than the preceding one. better yet. at least three. and the comparative scale of their sizes. indistinct. Thales’ geometry reduces to a master mason’s metric. at the perpendicular corners of the edifice to be created. Descartes an engineer.success caused them to be scorned. It follows from this practically that if I want to study the historical. Here and there. or transcendental question of the origin of mathematics. propagating vertically in the system starting from these advances. mathematics improves its rigor and purity. a term in which the philosopher likes to find the Earth and the world. mathematicians sometimes called them geographies. Present in the entire course of this history. transcendental or constitutive. Monge an architect or an expert in the excavations and embankments of civil engineering.

”1 The axes of Cartesian coordinates therefore reproduce these chaises. The chaises are the abstract foundation of the building. in Descartes. the origin and the fundamental? Is it the movement of purification that reduces mathematical memory to technology? Is it a question of artifacts that become all the more artificial the older the sedimentation? In this sense. What a wonderful and luminous technique of archaeological research then this filtering for purity is. “chaise” or “cathedra” here doesn’t mean a bishop’s seat. for crossing the threshold of percolation. There are ruptures of connection. The reference axes. A master of space. transposes the actions of masons onto the plane. xxvi   THE DIFFERENCES: CHAOS IN THE HISTORY OF SCIENCE . Continuity would therefore prevent us from seeing the stratifications of the layers of different ages. reproduces. vector space. cols of stoppage or equilibrium. several tears … At a given moment the system constructed doesn’t recuperate all the remainders of the ancient time: on the contrary. the exasperated topography of forgotten worlds. As soon as Euclidean space gets plucked into topological space. No. while hiding it. He is preparing to build a cathedral. everyone forgot them: who today remembers this chaise? The Meno then would relate rather a break and the discontinuity of mathematical time. but the bishop’s seat also evoked this function. a group of displacements … all that remains of it is the trihedron—the chaise?—of walls and ceiling that protects me in my house. you can receive information from worlds that no longer exist. The flux passes and flows. where no historian would be mistaken if language called them cathedrae.2 Percolator It would be better then to conceive this history as a complex surface. metric space. a filtering achieved by the very movement of mathematics’ progress! Every point along its course discovers evidence of the origin carried up to there and abandoned through the contemporary filtering—yes. zones of stationary values. made up of chimneys of strong acceleration. the advance toward purity or rigor eliminates fossils. a selection in its recurrent movement. rather the reference for every measure of the edifice. definitively cut adherences: the system functions like a filter. well-known evidence of prehistory: as in astronomy. fulfill the same conditions. Are these. a builder. Descartes.French word. with a current all the more transparent for discharging finer and finer alluvia. the scholarly word “cathedra. it makes a choice. polished with use. in both cases.” which must be heard here in the sense that geometry still gives to the words “dihedral” and “polyhedron.

Ariadne. On the excess of information We periodically hear uttered the fear that the accumulation of knowledge leads as inevitably to barbary as its very absence. This amounts to believing that the THE DIFFERENCES: CHAOS IN THE HISTORY OF SCIENCE   xxvii . Whence it comes that Plato himself forgot the world of the shaky graphe.4 Mathematical invention leads me again to the origin. knots and labyrinths became mathematized by the topology of graphs. once again. the hesitant and anexact graphe3 that Plato refused to see is perceptible and purely mathematical at the same time. where I expect from the future information issuing from worlds already dead. The situation resembles. then and only then did I understand the weaver to be a pre-mathematical technician more ancient than the surveyor. this mathematization of the anexact causes all graphism in general to be discovered to be a pre-mathematical manipulation of topological varieties. the shaky square drawn in the sand. I understand the processes of sedimentation and the existence of forgotten meanders. inside the mathematical process: I mean by this that a cultural formation is only accessible as pre-mathe- matical in and through the autochthonous process of the science. abandoning the Euclidean meander: a lightning-fast short-circuit with the origin. extricating the originary that wasn’t mathematical and hence becomes so: thus topology invades the upstream of the metric. By studying the dynamic of the flowing river. The second one consists in reading the prehistory in abandoned concepts that were mathematical and no longer are. endlessly readable. science ought to collapse beneath its own productive proliferation. and which twenty-five centuries after him we wind up remembering. and lastly what is reported of Gordium or of Minos to be pre-scientific schemas more deeply buried than the myths of builders. and Alexander A new example. No other archaeological technique would have been able to lead me below traditional surveying. that of astrophysics. I go directly from the poor tracing of the square in the sand to topological varieties. Furthermore. Here are two distinct archaeologies: proper to mathematical movement as such. and the taut plumb line to be a metric modality of the same cord bent or knotted in a hundred ways. When paths. The old problem of the origin of geometry finds its solution. Portraits of Penelope. the first one never ceases reactivating its origins and deepening its foundations. Yes. anterior to intelligible metric.

it takes it up by filtering it. we must examine the filter inside these boundaries. no term corresponds to “topological manifold” … A semi-conductor. By means of the series of these shortcuts. even having disappeared. which is hardly understood after this invention except as the underworld where the daughters of Danaus strove over their sieve. things don’t happen like this because it filters its heritage rather than taking it up in its entirety.advance in what we know recuperates the totality of previous knowledge: through an accumulative process. does away with a field of knowledge just as much as it promotes another: with its key. or Sisyphus endlessly pushing his rock back up. to the tradition. what archaeology finds again and abandons. synthesis annihilates it with a stroke of its pen. as soon as it is said. better. the encyclopedia would snowball on itself. Consequently. In the name of the divine speed of intelligence. conversely. it communicates in a lightning-fast manner with the origin. Three volumes of calculation on Harmony by Mersenne are rendered useless by a given theorem on the arithmetic triangle. geometry cease- lessly abandons its meanders. conversely. Hence as well ruptures: stemming from worlds foreign. Here is a word no one knew how to say and which. this path is most often cut off because the intersection of the two repertoires can be empty. And since the path is punctuated with points of no return. it shortens by augmenting. come by the shortest path. this invention puts into short-circuit a corpus that remains in history as a forgotten braid. Let there be then two cross-sections: mathematical language A is anterior to language B in the ordinary diachrony. the history of science can go straight. the futility of a regressive archaeology that xxviii   THE DIFFERENCES: CHAOS IN THE HISTORY OF SCIENCE . diminishes by accumulating. Succeeding dispersal. A great invention annuls. stops the stupid and slow repetition. we cannot go from B into A. in the Euclidean repertoire. Galois demanded to jump with both feet over calculations. or vector language. a given structure sums up a gallery of models. Archaeology by means of the greatest slope. the entirety of the same movement of birth or rebirth and death with no return. it closes an entire domain. metric. Filter This situation defines the extreme boundaries of the filter: what the present leaves and finds. That said. new information appears. Euclidean space can be translated into topological. For mathematics at least. three theorems from the De Arte Combinatoria do away with a thousand techniques of Lull’s type. It is almost always possible to translate A into B.

while revealing the slow movement of deep plates. again defines a system of translations. designating deeper layers. Once again. It therefore seems essential to rectify the connected or continuous models. endlessly out of circuit. The judgment of recurrence doesn’t go from topological space to Euclidean space. I don’t communicate with the origin through the traditional historical channel. but precisely thereby designating their lack of interest. By endlessly making its way toward mathematicity. giving the preceding ones to be understood. cuts it up.would confine itself to reversing history. On the contrary. So it would be necessary to read the final projection as a series of geological cross-sections whose final one is always deeper. models which would remain valid in the exceptional cases where there would still be a common repertoire. Each restructuration is a kind of earthquake that can abruptly uncover archaic layers and bury recent sediments. this movement reinterprets in return surpassed idealities or better. or one returns through science itself and ceaselessly reinterprets the cultural formations by always pushing the cultural as such further back into the process of digging deeper. eliminates the impure. but rather the vertical path of the mathematical art of inventing: I reinterpret the historical tradition starting from this. Each synchronic cross-section includes its conditions of translatability. THE DIFFERENCES: CHAOS IN THE HISTORY OF SCIENCE   xxix . how much less continuity is there between cultural forma- tions as such and the formations that are differentiated from the first ones by the fact that they carry the truth away with them? This incessant putting out of circuit accounts in depth for the principle of indeterminism indicated above: either one returns through cultural forma- tions and never encounters science as original and veracious movement. the new one makes it explode. their prehistoric and pre-mathematic nature. retains from it only the gold of mathematicity. can be measured. that would not take the original movement of the science into account. filters it. My regression doesn’t follow the path of tradition. but through the effort of invention and foundation of mathematics itself. it goes from the topological presuppositions of Euclidean space to the global reinterpretation of Euclid’s corpus. History of science From which a significant result comes: if there is no continuity between the mathematical cross-sections since each one places the preceding one in short-circuit. At the same time anterior and posterior to the preceding language. mathematics makes its way backwards toward the foundation of its prehistory. their superficial and problematic character.

evolution. we now know that rigor and purity evolve. its continuous character. This sky of today. its forgettings and mnemonic accumulation. the way the system of knowledge is. constituted presently with relative eyes. purity follows a time. or better. it invents or masters a new temporality by constituting it from the scattered elements of the former model’s bursting. Earth Here is found the very old philosophical tradition according to which the most rigorous of the examples of theoretical thought resides in the contemplation of the earth and the universe. the sky is observed. It’s no longer eternity that’s discovered here but the confusion of anachronic trails. or of any tangency between the two. another about an episode that’s earlier by so many millennia it has no meaning on the historical scale. Everything happens as though the models that philosophy constructs of science and science of history imitated those that science creates of the world. the arrow and fletching of its vector. Here and now.Time On balance. science tends to do away with the traditional characteristics of the model of time: its directional. In a word. put us simul- taneously in almost immediate communication with circumstances whose dates are dispersed in a thousand conceivable ways. ten kinds of waves are giving pieces of information that are dispersed in relation to the time of history. disappearance. the way stars are born. Lastly. one informs about a recent event. the way cosmogony now accompanies cosmology: origin. First of all. it sometimes plays Socrates’ game and sometimes that of the child slave. Theory is a history. the way in the past the Copernican Revolution had changed the references for movement and thought. through its iterated choice between a lightning- fast communication and a putting out of circuit. but of the constitution of a historicity that reconstructs at leisure its former characteristics: it will be necessary to speak about percolation. this pure thought whose history never ceases to be taken up again. of the universe and of knowledge. An astro- physical revolution brings rigor to variance without variation of rigor. grow old and die in their novas. irreversible character. xxx   THE DIFFERENCES: CHAOS IN THE HISTORY OF SCIENCE . Even though the objects in the sky seemed to our precursors to be as stable and pure as the idealities of theoretical thought. these two systems. universal model at the same time as into the domain of the universe. we have brought history into the domain of the ideal. It’s no longer a question of time or eternity.

flowing present and this theoretical-concrete spectacle that rends. we have to take up a new knowledge. eminently concrete. Come back under the guise of contemporary mathematicians. confuses and complicates in an almost random way the temporal sequences. Kant described a history of science and found the Copernican Revolution in that history to be an event to be repeated for the henceforth rigorous metaphysics. the passage between my time and a kind of distributive pan-chrony. Are there as many models of the history of science as there are of the universe? The earth was long ago the originary soil where theoretical thought was constituted by giving meaning to movement and rest. Anachronic and panchronic. discover an out-of-the-ordinary whose beginning takes our culture back to its prehistory. complicated temporalities in search of their integration and to this end practice a revolution without eponym through a return to the world itself? The living present And again we’re living and thinking at the origin. As in every decisive and conditional moment of history. physicists. excellently abstract. THE DIFFERENCES: CHAOS IN THE HISTORY OF SCIENCE   xxxi . in the first birth of the universe. the universe again becomes philosophy’s paradigm. its real model. as well as to the relativity of my own. The totality of the universe in evolution now gives its meaning to the multitude of times. or chemists. astron- omers. what must be understood places us in the closest proximity to forgotten archaisms. Can one now write a science of history according to mixed. Yet it is necessary to understand the site of contact between the living. in a new infancy of the world. Thales or Anaximander compel us to look at the knowledge of history again.

whose sweeping along we don’t know how to form into a whole. we ceaselessly admire new marvels. the parents of our beautiful children and sometimes the authors of unexpected thoughts: death. With the divine office of the hours or the schedule of shift work. the works of the opposing time of evolutionary life and engenderment. wrinkles and fatigue quickly invade the aging organism. indifferently. deprived of meaning. Contradictory among themselves. so that every prediction bears on the future. this book and its readers. dates back in the West scarcely several decades. are soon going to die from exhaustion. how does the world go? . the state of our knowledge represents us as torn. this clock time of the planets or of classical rational mechanics therefore turns and goes back over itself. yes.SYNTHESIS: THE SCIENCE OF HISTORY TIMES: Elements and problem With the present hour. but just as much on the past. punctual for appointments. shown on the roundness of dials. these three times nevertheless bear everyone’s existence in that. On the other hand. there are two other times: that of the second principle of thermodynamics. we observe the work of our profession and the collective holidays. along toward disorder and death: wearing out. to erosion and repetitions. think. religious or working groups live according to the rhythm of the time. plunged in a flow with three unrelated times. Independent from it and from each other. a watch indicates a state of affairs in the world such as it took place and will be reproduced an endless number of times: reversible or circular. but love. which we know carries the local things of the world. us. of course. repetitive. the pages of almanacs or displayed calendars: the social generalization of this form of life or sensibility. where has your victory gone? Transitory. and the stars become erased in the burst of their novas. invent and reproduce? Subjected thus to invariants. as well as our bodies.

temperance. allied. memory. temperament. means to stretch. when—a divine surprise—an intuition from Emile Benveniste intervened. one of which. τείνω [teino]. weigh the intemperate weather that awaits him. mixed. Outside of all comprehension of history and time. the exchanges between groups. how consequently do we seek access to origins? Must we in addition consider the paradox presupposed by origins to be nothing. are loath to form a whole. sight. intemperate weather [intempérie]. of cold and hot. of long and short. the unforeseeability of the works of the mind … become inaccessibly inextricable and complex! We admire the naivete of the philosophers who in the past claimed to show the meaning of history and explain its laws. namely the paradox of a thing whose existence is effaced before the very moment it begins. making up the temperature. complex. all terms from the same family. touch. predict. single in the Latin languages. languages that have forgotten or willingly left this strong community. and the other. signifies to cut.So if the time of the universe or of lives seems incomprehensible because its elements. together designate a mixture whose idea precedes. tempest. the farmer examines or observes the sky and tries to assess. For tempering. associates. a problem that plunges his temperament. from which we no doubt draw our measures and datings. how much does the time of history. whose sum federates the chaos and the rules of the things of the world. before deciding what work to start upon. τέμνω [temno]. temperature. and corresponding to two separate terms in the Germanic languages: time or zeit and weather or wetter. An old peasant scene: every morning upon waking. and federates the two meanings—chronological and meteorological—of the word temps. whose stretching out expresses the continuous flow without tear well enough2 Grammarians have long fought over this difficult choice. SYNTHESIS: THE SCIENCE OF HISTORY   xxxiii . evaluate. if I dare say so. from one or the other of two contradictory Greek verbs. one of whose lessons shows that compounds. the multiple evolutions of the living. into a formidably complicated mixture of wet and dry tempered together. smell. can paradoxically date from a more archaic era and preserve more ancient traces than the simple term itself. whose depth teaches us as much about it as the inverse reasoning that claims that before Monsieur de Lapalisse was dead he was still living?1 Mixture The word temps [time] derives.

Without having to become erudite or remember our rustic childhood. formerly designated the funnel with a bottom of woven cloth through which we would filter the freshly milked milk: cheesecloth strewn with obstacles. a couloir because we want flowing to follow a channelization. just as heedlessly.6 The unity of the time that passes must be doubled into this advancing course and this immobility frozen by some obstacle stopping the progress. and the water that xxxiv   SYNTHESIS: THE SCIENCE OF HISTORY .4 Fortunately. not a channel of facilitation. let the hour ring. but chronology’s temps? Flowing What are we really saying for example when we heedlessly claim that time coule [flows]? With this verb we describe a flux or a river whose fluid descends. grape harvest or hay-time—beginning or ending. is designated by the pas [step]. when it doesn’t pass. Time flows the way it passes: not all the water Apollinaire doesn’t watch under the Mirabeau Bridge will necessarily go to Rouen. not far from negation. all the water of Paris to Rouen and the Channel. after the confluence of the Marne. language has more memory than poets. a term that we ought to translate precisely with “couloir. I remain. sowing. but a more complicated process of passage by sieve or of filtering by strainer: on scorching summer evenings the ancient Romans used to chill their wine by making it pass through a colum of snow. by a channel called. peasant childhood. with the pas of ne … pas. they are grandiloquently repeating that time passes by declining the two nominal elements stemming from this same verb. from a verb that again signifies mixing. When the learned claim that the time of history is moved by the dialectic.” since—oh. but that in the contrary case. when advance is positive. well-behaved and rational.”5 whose unity. the days pass on. in French. to and under the Mirabeau Bridge. Certain things traverse the sieve. For from what source does this verb couler descend? The Latin colare in no way describes the laminar descent that would bring from Charenton. that favorable moment the Greek language calls καιρός [kairos]. we name. in its course.3 rather like the Seine.of continuous and broken. others not [pas]: here we find not only the meaning of the verb “to flow” but also that of “to pass. from the source to the mouth. again!—this very word. we could already guess that meteorology’s temps amounted to mixtures. docilely descending between the smooth steep-sidedness of its banks as it flows under the Mirabeau Bridge: let the night come. whose present promise permits avoiding the ravages of the tempest or defines—for plowing. cultivated for millennia.

the three times we just now prejudged to be incapable of being formed into a whole. doesn’t pass. our loves return. fifty to a hundred separate or connected beds intersect one another. the Amur overflows. by ten minor beds. randomly and in a circle. for which alone the hour rings. furnish a broader image of it. evaporation transformed yet another part into vapor … certain elements pass while others go back up or are retained. yes. In the immense plain. eddies and turbulences seized another part under the bridge pier. Frozen in its legal course. because the alluvia flow all along the riverbed. the Mackenzie … and the Ganges under low altitudes. pass in and through such a generalized filtering. neither forgetfulness nor time flows. no. Under high latitudes. the Yukon. some of which. every channel there can form an obstacle and every barrier a passage. to a particular case. past time returns. It freezes this morning. but toward midday the debacle shakes several arms. others return or remain. the Amur. Under the Mirabeau Bridge the Seine flows exceptionally. in the simple and laminar flux. form dykes in some direction. that is to say. yes. Amid the chaos of the sand and blocks. in loading itself down with gravel and pieces of ice. too charged with sand. entwined by multiple anastomoses. but here mixed: death. just like the Seine. and others lastly are annulled. sometimes. Signifying physically and at the origin to percolate. loves return. and the course doesn’t flow or passes little. forgetfulness. SYNTHESIS: THE SCIENCE OF HISTORY   xxxv . rather they percolate. like these percolating waters. What we took to be the common and reasonable current amounts to a rarity. certain days pass on. Percolation Flow [écoulement] had forgotten this percolation that more faithfully trans- lates the old Latin and the recent science. the flows connect and disconnect. it passes here and there and there and here because it passes. new loves of the one who remains? If the water sometimes remains stable and other times heads back the way it came. the verb “to flow” reduces. these rivers percolate spectacularly. does a memory pocket form following the arc? Yes. shuddering. for which this complexity is better perceived when navigating its course and taking lots of trouble to descend the counter- currents than when dreaming on top of a bridge. Like the Seine. If he had observed the Seine flowing would he have seen the exchanger of the three times clearly functioning. the flux of the river doesn’t flow.goes into the Channel didn’t necessarily pass under the Bridge of his loves … countercurrents impelled part of the flow to head back upstream.

A multiplicity of relations can attach or not a large number of objects or states of affairs to each other: this is percolating time. whose courses advance. and the Ganges. our language calls Harlequin’s cloak mosaic. of the word. but rather perco- lates. time does not flow nor does it pass. the Yukon. music percolates. stop and return. and no doubt. diverse and separated. if such laws existed. at the same time digital and continuous. In the same sense. the Amur. Always so wise in its archaism but scientific enough to rejoin our advanced technologies. which can help us understand history. but whose hues and motif can step across or not the boundaries between pieces. are connected and cut off. A mosaic and musical interlude Better than it passing and flowing. sifts. the world and life percolate. the temps of the tempered intem- perate weather or of temperature flows. we have to remember the originary meanings of the verbs “to pass” or “to flow.” By what strange ignorance did the philosophers and poets who best expressed the fleeing vanishing of duration forget them? What filter had blocked their languages’ memories? Here then plainly are the words: yes.” which are in exact conformity with the originary meanings of the term “temps. mix everywhere. passes. go back up elsewhere. like a liquid through a sieve or a filter. that is to say. real time. in such a way that this art. And what reason is there. as announced by the old agrarian roots. passes. xxxvi   SYNTHESIS: THE SCIENCE OF HISTORY . spread their invasion across them. semi natural. a cloak of pieces. our soul lastly. whose course is now being wonderfully drawn: an inaccessibly large multi- plicity of elements maintain relations or not to each other. Intertwined. to reduce such a complexity to a couloir or a continuous line regularly linking one point to another successively? Who tightens its bottlenecking narrow passage? Solution So time flows like the Seine. there. that is to say. and history as well. here. So to remain faithful to the things themselves. time flows is translated term for term: mixtures percolate. forms and colors. here and there. simplistic or terrible. remains or doesn’t pass. that is to say. which we would no doubt know and control by foreseeing their results. designs. Like these rivers. this model of the time of history ought to seem more probable and wise than the one that has us believe that history follows entirely simple and easy laws. so when all is said and done. traverses.

like philosophy. the contradiction between being and non-being. But the world. Swept along in a held or fractal flow of global and finely local intuitions. unresolved for consciousness since it is only what it is not and is not what it is. continuously stretching. works. objects as well as inwardness. in the changes of phases and times. to think mixture. the life of organisms or of environments. finds its solution—the best of the possible words—in the mixtures and eddies. in which the body and the world are immersed and the duration whose soul flames and that vivifies the mind therefore flow as mosaic or percolate as music—mixed. a memory our sciences rediscover in their most recent advances. connected with a thousand flows that pass and don’t pass. ritornellos and da capo. or worse yet. Time forms the paste or the material of these imaginary faculties. but rather invades the spatial volume with its sometimes linked. because they ignored the real flow of time. SYNTHESIS: THE SCIENCE OF HISTORY   xxxvii . memories wake at the sudden returns of countercurrents. No. remembers. almost homophonically. time … percolate. dialogues. imagination or memory. blended. love … in general. thinks. unconscious or conscious.8 Here again we find the most ancient roots of the word “time. the flows of every order. a mosaicist and musician. the word “music. that ghost of the pathological. harlequin. produces this time or bathes in it. the one who lives. and the most entangled of all the mixtures.7 The term “mosaic” repeats. cutting into little facets. Memory sleeps in the dead arms and abandoned meanders. a subject.expands or stretches without tearing and is cut up in the sense of fracture: mixture is also precisely said as cutting. percolates even more so. often dispersed bursting: connected and disconnected fluxes making up the irresistible sweeping along. composite. Why did cultures have to imagine words to say those absences or nothings otherwise named me or us? Why did psychology have to invent faculties. stable holdings where the now flames. and τείνω. history.” its root. Useless faculties The duration. which on the contrary the objective conservatory of our languages and peasant behavior remember. composes. that one absent from health? Why did history aspire to comical laws? Because all of them refused. this latter doesn’t flow along a couloir. tiger-striped. physical. invents. zebra- striped.” τέμνω.

like the Amur or the Yukon. sweeps along with it a straight flow or current. from just now. freezes. Furthermore. he defines a threshold below which nothing passes or flows globally due to the number of connections produced being too small. natural like a bog or a hollow. without our being able to predict it. thick. xxxviii   SYNTHESIS: THE SCIENCE OF HISTORY . tub. and suddenly. returns. continuous. we see being resolved every morning when the coffee filters in a percolator: how do we cross from the state where nothing passes to the one where a regular flux flows? Can our diverse experiences of history be better expressed. the source rushes forth. as though immortal. where a torrent sometimes takes the place of a long dryness? Source Have you. basin or reservoir that has been built. however. otherwise artificial: a trough. leaves. irresistible. irreversible and reversible. loafs. in the interlacing being considered. Which flow or current. retains. well-behaved under the Mirabeau Bridge. sink. or seems to sleep amid the multiple interlacings. Where should we place this threshold? A difficult question that. almost permanent. In fact. history filters. the Danube’s or the Yukon’s? Most often it consists of a collection basin. suddenly. some rational Seine. What lastly can be more reasonable and more faithful to the real than to say of history that it randomly unites and separates a large multiplicity of states of affairs and that causes and effects exceptionally become enchained in it under strictly restrictive conditions? What we ordinarily call time and history boils down to an extremely rare case of this general configuration: to an optimally built couloir. that our temporary knowledge knows or distinguishes and others still no doubt that we intuit without being able to clarify them. how? Threshold It is to Pierre-Gilles de Gennes that we owe the beautiful theory of perco- lation as random flowing in a random environment. forgets. because the local passages have increased to the point of federating themselves. abundant. at some time.Model of history These entanglements mix at least the chronic elements among themselves. but above which. ever visited a source? The Vienne’s or the Garonne’s.

from the neigh- boring meadows or glaciers. with a gesture of sorting. But how did we start to cultivate the land? From what we are told gathering preceded the homogeneous flow of the harvest by chance. in order to eliminate them. I believe this gesture to be decisive and rigorously radical. does everything begin. in China perhaps. connected. linked to each other or not. of the Euphrates. What then can be said about the origin of geometry? PLACES: Gathering in the forests9 So before this origin occurs. the good grain from the chaff. as it is written. The clearing Agriculture wasn’t able to begin before the complete denudation of a certain piece of land. The elimination. opened an entirely new universe whose forgetful successors we are. did we separate the weeds. whose status and construction resolves the easy and naive paradox of the origin. of the Tigris. Everything happens as though the source was a condition that only functions as a first upstream by a contradiction in its own definition since it’s placed or constructed as a final downstream. in Egypt. Even though we didn’t know how to act. the bad apple tree from the good fruit trees …? In this sort of constricting passage. the origin inverses the laws of regime. on the banks of the Nile. Your surprise went all the way to outrage: an origin would contradic- torily reduce to an end or a mouth? Yes. Since no written testimony remains of it. SYNTHESIS: THE SCIENCE OF HISTORY   xxxix . a clean place in the inextricable tissue of vegetable or forest mantle forming an interlacing set of percolating lives. let’s dream. disconnected. during the Neolithic. since the basin in question collects or recruits countless imperceptible trickles of water come from the mountain. some others on the contrary? And. of the Huang He. in Mesopotamia. through fear or disgust. of exclusion or expulsion? Suddenly. the total purge or tabula rasa of every species in a given place first produces a clearing. complex and intertwined that it wouldn’t give birth to a continuous flow without precisely the existence of this collection basin—which marks the threshold of percolation. A boundary between these two reigns. agriculture. an arborescence that’s so fine. certainly. were we already demanding? Did an attraction impel us to choose the best of the present and possible fruit? Did we reject. lands on which one counted or measured already.

banishing. which concerns the set of plants. doing away with. Attacking therefore the earth itself. to cut the earth and to slit the throat of his sacri- ficed brother. at the height of murderous fury. since the very intention of an invention cannot appear before its invention. it continues. so that nothing can oppose its furious movement. to exclude everything that grows there. here is first and foremost a place where everything is pulled up or unlinked. from the animal case. the plowshare destroys the expelled species down to their deepest rootlets: a treatment that’s literally radical. Not only does it cut one continuous and closed furrow. in the Greek language. here it has become a plowshare. animal. The same blade serves to delimit space. Abel. of inventing a clearing. xl   SYNTHESIS: THE SCIENCE OF HISTORY . Cain. by substitution. but two furrows. From human sacrifice. that inanity which. three. not only what we now call weeds. the first fruits. but of uprooting. beast. but the deforestation eradicates the very roots from the soil. at the origin signifies: purification or whitening in the course of a sacrifice. no grass. the profane outside. cleaning via emptiness. or plant … Isaac. the scapegoat … It kills. the origin of plowing follows. Whether a field of battle or of ruins. The obstacles and mutual-impediments disappear at this threshold. The term “elimination” signifies the expulsion of everything beyond the limen or boundary. So. no root. Not only do the trunks fall. as though it exceeded the skill of the sorcerer’s apprentices. Thus the city is enclosed within its walls and leaves the countryside outside: the plowshare founded the first Rome when Romulus killed his twin at the bottom of the furrow. ten thousand. frenetically handled. Before the birth of all cultivation it wasn’t of course a question of making the land fruitful through plowing. the origin of livestock breeding is derived: it suffices to defer the execution of an animal for a more supple variety to suddenly become adapted to domestication. Sacrifices Whether violent or ritual. of totally killing the plants in order to create a clean site. from the second case. Why would this knife stop? Wildly. after the stone ax. destroying. the holocaust of species of fauna and flora ensues. the cutthroat separates the space of the temple. the lamb. nothing of what grows there. drawing first a closed line: the sacred within. a knife attacks everything: man. everything. this word signifies that cremation does away with everything.

everything percolates beneath the threshold—whereas in this white place. a womb and virginal chora. sacked. a white box. or the Huang He. hortus … source-basin Thus agriculture was born via a naked space. When this fury exhausts itself. millet. wild mustard … A new time has just begun. a thick jet gushes. this single sowing—nothing passes. alone and the first. Locus: Templum. everything is plowed. the Euphrates. the Tigris. devastated. trees. bushes. The religious act of the first fury turned. that died there. by chance. naturally. a unitary. In the Greek language again. null and in disequilibrium. comes there and dies multiplies without hindrance and. the first empty ecological niche. whether sudden or foreseeable? Did a flood tear up everything along its passage. ravaged. grains? Did it purify everything? Did it make the cultual or cultural gesture naturally? Natural violence or social and religious. Everything flows above the threshold. even quickly threatens the entire Earth with its special population. torn up into a fine powder. The first work. A threshold which no longer has any obstacle. then. roots. is the point. pagus. Did the indis- pensable denudation happen all by itself on the shore of some river in spate. fluviatile cradles of history? SYNTHESIS: THE SCIENCE OF HISTORY   xli . the grain that. a happenstance or a grain occurred. in exploding numerically. mosses. harrowed. rarely and sparingly. carves the place up until it can no longer be cut up: here already. unlinked: the Greek says analyzed. Of wheat. parallel and abundant flow. plants. Because. permits accepting. all the species form an equilibrium whose balance. reduced to elements. a religious templum that suddenly became the agrarian pagus. pillaged. who can say? Was agriculture born from this encounter or this short-circuit on the banks of the Nile. this frenetic and generalized murder cuts up the temple down to the atoms. in a way. hence appearing as a white domino. rice. the most often. temple and atom precisely signify these two limits of every cutting. into agricultural action. or rejecting. in the forests and across the savannahs.10 Elsewhere than in this new locus. A source has just appeared or been born: from this high basin. as improbable as it was unexpected. Two floods: Men or nature? Was plowing immediately probable? We will never know. parsimonious and without large deviations. the one wide and the other as thin as it is definitive: this is the field and the state of the land inside.

its flow begins. The flood wasn’t desired or expected nor was the plowing carried out with an eye to irrigating or sowing. while in the local white box thus produced. expulsion An emptied square of ground from which the entire plant and forest mantle has disappeared in effect produces an abrupt divergence from equilibrium in the life of the flora interlaced around abouts. its discovery beneath the waters or its constitution by the sweat.11 The previous equilibrium was woven from fine differences. no. a rift. The problem of origin therefore only requires for its solution the simple. the invention of an empty local space. The human parasite consequently multiplies via this rift in the equilibrium and floods the world in turn. Suddenly another flood rose up. homogeneous like flows. In general. opens a tear in the tissue of the savannahs. Whence this catastrophic tear through which the multitude of wheat. sown there by the winds of chance. Since no obstacle stands before it. agriculture didn’t begin with its own intention or targeted finality: every- thing happened or was undergone for the sake of cleaning and purification. or the sum of their phases? Divergence. The oldest work of the human world. of the jungle or forests of the world. Explosion against growth. like every other invention. elementary operation of expulsion. long like recited histories. millet could pass. as though a welcoming basin through which the exponential multiplication of the luckiest or best adapted unity rushes. prolific. homogeneity appears. it crosses the percolation threshold. in intersected networks linking heterogeneous and complex multiplicities. chances and circumstances. rice. that windfall: stocks of unexpected food. depending on the climates. innumerable. history is no longer going to oppose anything but multiplicities. blood and tears from faces. Through this tear or rift passes the vertical proliferation of a given single species. xlii   SYNTHESIS: THE SCIENCE OF HISTORY . whose furies combined with his own cleaned and purified everything via emptiness? Must we give the verb “to percolate” in this case the exceptional meaning of flowing beyond every limit? Does this flood result from the rare action of nature alone or from the violent acts of a warrior and priest hero? Or from the strange addition of these two acts? Will we ever know whether the flood expresses human violence or that of a transgression of climactic origin. source of a continuous and unitary flow. diverted by Hēraklēs. a gap. with an originary proper name. is culture born from an Alpheus River. Men chased the living species out of a given site because a parasite always expels all the others.

cuts out the templum. better than adjuvants. The farmer. they said. sages or agrimen- sores. and let’s rather reconstruct the operation’s upstream anew. the river erases not only the bound- aries but the entire population of living things that were growing in that space or field. measure. the first geometers. the space becomes homo­geneous. had taken as judges of their boundary disputes those who knew how to obtain areas via operations regarding lengths. writing and prestige: these are the harpedonaptai. took it into his head to exclude everything in it was the true founder of the following historical era. Mars ravages and sacks SYNTHESIS: THE SCIENCE OF HISTORY   xliii . who must indeed be inter- calated because he already plays the only god. the originary foundation of all property. smooth. having enclosed a piece of land or a field. when the underhanded neighbor moved. expurgated of the equilibriums caused by the mutual-impediments. act in their place and in their stead sometimes. via the cord. Priests or experts. the boundary stones and exceeded them. all at once. Or those whose services could be hired at the notary. will imitate him. of cutting out the templum. those they called the harpedonaptai redistribute the parcels whose boundaries the floods have just erased to the peasants or owners. at the canton capital. In spate. Through the excess beyond the high water level. Let’s not laugh too quickly. the god of the priests. expelled. the Nile overflows and ravages the surrounding fields. history bifurcates? The Nile Herodotus recounts the origin of geometry. the god of violence and warriors. Do we go about things any differently when we invent other objects during the moments when. Jupiter. or even. The Egyptians. later. at night. Everything is torn up from it. unit. Before the expert. Is it a question of giving an image of the originary unlimited in Anaximander’s sense? Does this indefinite express precisely a sacrificial crisis? The traditional interpretation of this venerable text reflects the agrarian culture of our grandparents. the priest therefore made the gesture of expulsion. The first person who. The river and its flood do not stand in the way of the combined or successive actions of the religious man and the farmer but aid them in this affair.Agriculture is born from this base square whose rupture of equilibrium achieved through expulsion constitutes a site of cleanliness [propreté]. The genealogy of places Here is the general genealogy for the theory of places: by excluding the profane from the sacred. covered with silt.

their appearance and name alone being renovated: first called purification. as that of the writer. where writing was born in the same way. the last to arrive. was perhaps already done. Quirinus works the field. measure. excluding every other trace before aligning the furrows of his own letters: white. either through purification and violence. and agrarian work from which geometry is born.12 Herodotus then didn’t say without plausibility that the peasant received his site from the first erosion of the river. pagus. following the two others. Internal. then from the intervention of a priest: violence. which we can equally interpret as the exacerbated growth of human or natural virulence. Denying. But this addition aligns homogeneous elements because in this same place. in sum. all those whose names are in like manner transformed—priest. above all in the deltas and river mouths. where the co-hort foresees the hortus. on balance. our geometry therefore follows: excluding by the excluded third or middle. exclusion. finally hard work. Language has been censored and blanked out by many similar rooms: tabula place only comes from this centrifugal operation of whitening: stemming from the field. soldier. then defense. without remembering that this expression described the gesture of the writer erasing. renamed. we say of these places. of wax or papyrus. the campus and the hortus: the field lastly results from the temple and the camp. and peasant—devote themselves to the same action. named once again by geo-metry. For the locus. from the same word as pagus. this page designates in our languages. it will long remain the residence of a god and the enclosure or bastion of entrenched resistance against any invader. whose name changes three times. expelling even more and much better than its predecessors. by doing away not only with the weeds but with every species. expelling. Exclusion and the excluded third or middle13 Here and there. white boxes or basins rend the plant mantle. the pagus thus adds up the terminal sum of the templum. the ancestors of labor. the god of production and agriculture. the operation of purification and giving form climbs back to the farmer who flows back to the soldier who appeals xliv   SYNTHESIS: THE SCIENCE OF HISTORY . the stones construct the walls that surround the restanques. as we started to say. On the same land. The work. the space. or through that flood. razing from his tablet. in the sequence of historical traditions: interlocking of meanings and things. Culture. or the same page. expels the enemies from it and with the arrival of the night draws the campus there.

and then the pure space in which we devote ourselves to rigorous proofs. from which explodes the crazy proliferation of that variety geometry—interminable discourse. A tabula rasa or cleaned place again. With no more obstacles. the chora of the Timaeus. negative or exclusive. Plato speaks. The operation of exclusion repeats. All these flows have. the fertile virginal womb. in culture. the camp and the field precede the page. Three origins in three persons in a single gesture at the same instant in the same locality: the temple. of war outside the entrenchments and of rites in the temples. of wheat across the fields. field. eliminates. farmer. scribe. becomes abstract because everything was subtracted or eliminated from it. from the side of culture. color. a new basin. Here. with the white expanse of our promised dominance: virgin wax. crossed the threshold of percolation. or. the most genius and evil of all. to the flooding. camp or temple. again and always. absolutely speaking. everything was uprooted or eradicated. The ancient intelligible and modern physics It’s philosophy’s turn now: when he tries to define space or figure. the sensible. soldier or priest. the philosopher extirpates from there all that might still dare to reappear: touch. At the opening of his Meditations. immense narrative—whose flow of results has never stopped increasing. everything passes there. expels. on the natural riverbank. in precisely apophatic terms. Acting like the geometer. He intelligently called this pure space intelligible. This virginal space. The seventeenth century repeats the same gesture in another site or in the same one. Descartes doubts. is a tear. with a major religious tonality. already homogeneous and isotropic. both this tabula and this place in the final analysis form a space we have to become the masters and possessors of through thought.either to the priest. his upstream ancestors. banishes everything hyperbolically. themselves in the final analysis based on the principle of the excluded middle or third. which above was page. all the way to the limits. therefore expelling everything. precisely. The thinking I chases away the parasites. all the way up to us. therefore measurable. and in prosopopoeia. so as to discover itself faced with the world. SYNTHESIS: THE SCIENCE OF HISTORY   xlv . like the continuous abundance of writing on the pages and walls. extracted. yes. for a single and same reason.

the technicity. an exuberant promise of every generation and descendant. infinity of Providence and provisions to come—hovers over the waters. every species of flora and fauna confused together. united in the integral of the ark right in the middle of the flood’s smooth box. an entire explosion of survival.14 Everything starting from nothing Why does the question of the beginnings end in disappointing results? Because at the origin we only find this white box or empty set. everything there starts from zero. Thus major floods: the rivers. from which the empty set results. repro- duction explodes. whose stocks will proliferate in the expanse rendered homogeneous or desert. Does history truly begin with this Deluge. the form of the intelligible. as though the sum of the floods from just now? Admire the image of Noah amid the ark of his animals. from then on resembles the numerical sequence. no longer like an ideality. as soon as the patriarch set foot on the still wet land of primeval silt he planted vines. completely simple and easy chains of reason pass infinitely. forms such a significant rupture in the cultural equilibrium that the proliferating multiplication of a certain type of rational coherence is going to rush through the rift of the gap. History bifurcates again no doubt: possession and mastery begin here. the entrenched camps. as though during a first deluge. And to further perfect it. With each appearance of the white box. the geometric chains. the furrows. Our history follows the white blanks from which these bifurcating geysers shoot forth. the rational and the technological multiply. In the tear thus made. the sacrifices. from which inevitably the creation ex nihilo was xlvi   SYNTHESIS: THE SCIENCE OF HISTORY . The constitution of a smooth expanse bathed in light. the number of humans. a growing bushing out of simples replaces the former multiplicity of equilibrated complexes. the rice. from the first verses of Genesis on: the spirit of God—creative seed. the controlled violence. the rites. amid the white waters: the most beautiful of the ensigns for the theory of this basin. the rationalization of the world. History. dated. but like an object of the world. the wheat. As is said. the clear and the unitary. An even more originary term. Round like the opening of a channeling pipe. the lines of writing. understanding and productive will. Hence the question: how to produce this zero? The unequivocal answer: through the total exclusion of everything in a given site.

from the primordial operation that does away with everything. of the principle of reason The principle of reason. thus engendered. the camp or city. nothing in the field. in the basin’s closest vicinity: so everything comes from nothing. the soldier. from upstream to downstream or downstream to upstream. A portrait in each place God. the logician … each prepare the superabundance of a source by installing a white box. this principle becomes annulled at the extreme limits. the geometer. where every root very logically disappears. the field and garden. ex nihilo: nothing subsists in the beginning. the totality of the flow rushes from its emptiness. the physicist. after the crisis. the writer. abstract space. nothing after the test of doubt. not even a tiny black point on the seed of a bean. nothing after the flood. Everything or the universe indeed comes from this first inundation. The fact that the nothing produces being becomes a result that’s practical and experimental just as much as it is theoretical. the page. at the limits. The lifting. Here is the discourse of the radical origin. the smooth landscape of the deluge. without ark or any other remainder. from link to link. From this jewel-place—the universe under flood. not even that from which a blade of grass could grow. the object conquered by technology … —shoots an irrepressible jet. in sum. SYNTHESIS: THE SCIENCE OF HISTORY   xlvii . Likewise. the origin of the world occurs in the infinite flow of atoms. flowing through the immense basin of the emptiness or of the purification and torn. the hilum. agricultural and military. the farmer and the breeder. cut up into pieces themselves indivisible. by the divergence in equilibrium caused by the inclination. of this creation starting from nothing. elsewhere. Or torn by the sudden big bang that laughs at the ordinary laws of physics.bound to follow. the patriarch and the priest. runs all along the flow of time. physical as well as geometric. rational and theological. nothing in the intelligible space in which the senses could be recognized. here and there. now hardly mysterious at all. a very improbable event and so bearing supera- bundant information. now homogeneous after this source. the intelligible world. the philosopher. So let’s understand the meaning.

irrepressible and continuous. I can’t believe that the animal that devastated a part of space knew in advance what the final product of its action or its exigent exaction would be. open and naked. now marked out. the answer to the theoretical question of origin holds in a word: by the creation of the basin I’ve just described. in which time. This sequence of source-places would be never-ending if it went from local box to local box. beyond expectations when it succeeded. monodromic and homogeneous. xlviii   SYNTHESIS: THE SCIENCE OF HISTORY . eradi- cated of all obstacle. Before the source and around the flow Before the origin. Everything flows then. without any continuous. for. sizable. in general. the creation of a collection basin is required. How could history explain their production since each of them produces a history? From this primitive genealogy a fever of eradication is derived. Each of them produces a flow. Before. this flowing wouldn’t be able to begin below this threshold. irrepressible. for entirely different reasons than its motives. a given flow passes and that elsewhere it doesn’t pass. just as it didn’t know. This solution doesn’t merely concern the birth of geometry but also that of agriculture. and that suffices. of the technological domination of the things of the world … thus. in practice as well as in theory. or homogeneous flow. With what aim did it purify or clean? We don’t know. in general time percolates below the percolation threshold. history. a stock. For this latter to be triggered. a fecundity. regular. of writing. after these basins or next to them and around the flows they give rise to. here and there. But doesn’t the logic of eradication necessarily lead to a global without remainder? Are we approaching this threshold? A question of philosophy: what should we do in the vicinity of this border today? TIMES AND PLACES: The white box or the basin Simple and magnificent. This labor succeeded. which therefore lets trickles pass that weren’t flowing. a sequence of immortality that feeds those who are going to proliferate from the bifurcation it announces. this signifies that. virgin. a torrent of abundance. which invents and discovers the white box of a source. Hence a fluctuating equilibrium. of physics.

as though an admission. invention Living immersed daily in an always formidably complex and miraculously improbable time. fossil adherences still attached to the origins … Yes. of difficult work and fecundity. everywhere else therefore time and history percolate. and the passage above the threshold thus indicated. of security. as though interlocked. From its conception. Like a comet appearing in the sky. why do we always feel such terrible fears toward and through theoretical knowledge? Or such joys? Works and days. whose localization suddenly channels a now rational flow. For the constriction at the level of the first basin. remains like a forgotten violence. the new light of mathematics trails behind it an immense tail. produced or written not to know the appearance. of miracles shooting out like fountains from an old dryness. even the most abstract or independent from the things of the world and society. of attack and defense. the singular emergence of pure space takes its place among other white beginnings. What then is the origin? The marking out and constitution of a basin. can remain mixed with a remainder of religious or sacrificial terror. almost as bright as it is. an inmost experience whose memory. SYNTHESIS: THE SCIENCE OF HISTORY   xlix . the sudden shooting forth of a source. reconstructed here. the excluded middle? Do we always remember the ferocious presuppositions of excellent reason? Who among us hasn’t felt at some time an almost religious or mystical respect for the idealities of mathematics or something like a fear emanating from its lofty figures. How better to describe the source of a river? Thinking all the interlocking Impossible to think the origin of geometry or the history of science without a general philosophy of time and its flow. plunged amid a general percolation. flows in the usual sense of this word. explains to us how a knowledge. of ecstasy. a source no doubt produced by the secret connections of the hundred thousand knotted or floating heads of hair of the flows of the awaiting that does and doesn’t pass. one must have never worked.oriented. whose presence we don’t quite forget when we devote ourselves to hard and pure demonstration. without a science of history. What terrible expulsion is still preserved in what we call.

I don’t know what. factory. fluctuating. But I tremble with hope. I await the highly improbable moment when the thunder of beauty will cause my paper to burn. If the fairy truly promised to fulfill everything. nothing out of all that you can offer me. quickly gets winded and exhausted. Why does life continue to death? Why does it persist in beating. for how many mornings when the vibrant descent of intuition suddenly flows. bridges conduits and bogs. l   SYNTHESIS: THE SCIENCE OF HISTORY . slowly. hope would answer: nothing. or monastery. and torrential? Unremitting work. in the course of ordinary time. hope requires some support. would ask it what it desired. yes. Invention has no hope. Hope has no need for promise. hesitant. subjected. or for lack of wood doesn’t burn. I await. it needs food and finalities. Whether subjected by the force of things or the power of men. Lower. whether turning in the round enclosure of the hours at the office. the origin takes place and occurs in the living present. invariant. like grace. for I no longer have any hope. but I pass my days and nights only in hope. but comes from the desert or the high sea. without warning and when it wants. divine. up to the rigorous rules of work and vocation. digs ditches. I don’t know when. patiently builds a basin … but do we know when the rain will come. rising early in the morning. and which may never occur. nothing in the world or life will ever be able to fill its well of hope. poorly connected. how many days do we spend in a solitary and laborious plain that’s as though equilibrated. delivered. it seeks no recompense. dredges canals. I await I don’t know who. suddenly sweeping in the direction of the future. percolating. I don’t know where. where it wants and onto the head of which among us? Invention enters into the complex time of this percolation and. appearing. An inventive event. Hope remains the fate of those who no longer have any hope. when the waters of the sky will burst. from vanishing youth to the great age that comes quickly. each of us follows a time schedule. It would have no answer for the fairy who. blessed. shining. the threshold or collection site. without gap or pardon. for that improbable moment. that’s without direction or meaning. connects an entire prior hydraulic work. blazing? The answer from Hope: for nothing. whether living intoxicated with God or the ideas of science. prepares there the white box. luminous. sometimes willingly. with hope.

Antiquity ran toward death. stoning. Rome falls. Statues placed death. Saint Augustine is building the Eternal City. in Berber lands. was running in the other direction. after a more than ancient reign. On the opposite shore of the Mediterranean Sea. After Rome. as though time. But first. and spiritual. Of the appearance of collective life: social. of our habilities. But another time is founded on the absence. but on the resurrection of Christ. This foundation never ceases: Livy’s first book endlessly repeats these murders—dismemberment. burial alive … —of Romulus in turn in the swamp of Capra. of our clothes [habits]. invention aims away from death: toward an immortality? SYNTHESIS: THE SCIENCE OF HISTORY   li . Romulus buried Remus in the ditch dug out to support the outer walls: the City is founded on this assault. of the king of Alba in the middle of the horses. what city couldn’t be defined in the same way since in the tomb lies the foundation of all our habitats. quartering. Much later. the City of God. is the narrative of the origins of a more than ancient city. infinitely. political. physical. of the universe and of life are now subject to the reign of science? The beginnings of science itself. the Christian era on the contrary turns its back to it. no longer founded. it being understood that the beginnings of matter and of light. once again. toward an immortality. on such sacrifices. among others. civil life. Chateaubriand calls Rome the city of tombs. invaded by the Barbarians. of all our habits too.REPETITIONS: Several origins of long durations What beginnings must philosophy give an account of. of hand and of intelligence? The second book therefore generalized the first one. an eater of flesh and blood. for its part. like it. temporal. about mourning. Rome taken as a paradigm. suddenly reversed. Contrary to every other living thing. under what conditions do we unite together to form a group? Here then. concluding. we hominids are born from death. at the foundation no longer merely of the City but of the constitution of things and of thought themselves and not The Five Senses as the philosophies of the tradition did. terrestrial or eternal. of Rhea Silvia the vestal … as though the collective resurged from its victims. the opening or forgetting of a tomb. sacked.

in this so general case. and will no longer cease. whose course. without prophetism or geometry. two families of finders? Look then. don’t appear in the same way. These circumstances. percolating. the rare initiation of immortality. For without code or writing. taken from ancient formulas: victories over victims and vice versa. on the other. on the one hand and everywhere. beginning The act of founding hopes for a long guarantee: who would want what he brings to light to disappear at the same instant? Do two kinds of discov- eries exist. it changes course and no doubt nature every time one of them appears. It’s not a question of images or reveries. for the glory. invented. whose staves are ceaselessly disjoined by the chaos of history and trans- formed into filters or strainers. inventing. Do we need to call such news universal. Percolating. here or then. found. have we ever stopped talking. gigantic pyramids destined to depart memory. It appears. producing scientific theories. would not be maintained. powers that pass on.15 Historians strive. to hopelessly plug up the thousand barrels of the Danaids. flowing But sometimes. certain inventions flow all by themselves and have no need for memorialists to keep their memories awake because conversely these inventions condition time. we cannot write history without them. finding. a miracle. we love them madly. since we discovered doing so? Irresistible. discovered. two ways of inventing. at the innumerable births of ephemeral transits. understood as the essence of the public. newspapers prefer to relate such daily. without them. swallowed up. building cities. without agriculture or city. discovering. fatal news. stillborn glories: this. passes and doesn’t pass. Far from writing their history. living intoxicated with God. one would think something immortal rises. news whose perpetuity federates and makes our collective and personal bodies function? lii   SYNTHESIS: THE SCIENCE OF HISTORY . Everyday we invent something deadly starting from death.Founding. ceased raising animals. sowing the land. writing. there can be no history: subjugated and deter- mined by such unforgettable flows. disintegrating into the sand. whose blood glues the members of the collective together and whose fascination guarantees publicity. The earthly and the eternal city aren’t founded.

Neither the lamb nor the pup ever ran to the woods. Today we eat mutton and bread. In the form of a dream Dream: might death then mark the error of our evil will? Between the philosophers. condition the multi-millennial evolutions of time itself and history. if it has one. Philosophy must give an account of the beginnings. silent. We go around saying that they invented the cultivation of a certain flora. Stop killing. which we no longer know. fly away or bolt as soon as it gets the chance. drink wine from the vine through the precisely immortal grace of their genius. is this a dream? Five thousand years ago. the domestication of a certain fauna. This work remains unchanged even though we have lost our initial knowledge: we have not since been able to domesticate any other species. the animals in the zoo reproduce poorly and rarely. wear clothes made of wool. free of error and free of help from any historian. whose human sacrifices ripped the heart out of some victim at the top of a pyramid so that the sun might rise. and the sun will pursue its course nonetheless. Wheat never returned to its wild variety. forgetful of our lessons. as well as cultivation. whereas we absurdly want it to motivate life and history. What would happen if we no longer collaborated with the work of death? And what if its necessity resided in our will? And what if it let go as soon as we no longer helped it? Truly. As if the approach of the new men extinguished the reproductive heat in them. Yet livestock breeding carried on. and the Aztecs. of the founda- tions of these long durations whose deep plates. We sometimes know how to train an animal. and history will calmly continue ahead without the bloodbath. but its descendant. What death lies in our groups for these animals to be henceforth struck with sterility? But our ancestors of forty centuries domesticated the species forever. even SYNTHESIS: THE SCIENCE OF HISTORY   liii . Worse. whose history proceeded via the work of the negative. we kill its genome. unknown ancestors handed plants and animals down to us. we never say that they invented an immortality. come out of their mother’s womb. but have inhabited our houses from their birth for thousands of years. This knowledge without death and opposed to it nevertheless came down to us. will escape if it can. We train the animal not its genome. what difference is there in truth? They both believed that time is moved by death: does it really only advance through destruction? Stop the sacrifices. like those of the Earth. Did there exist a prodigious knowledge whose traces we have lost? I dream then that this knowledge must have considered death to be nil.

Was it because of a such a prodigious knowledge that all of humanity was proud enough to want to become the equal of God? Was it because of this success that it merited. whose sentences tell of Gilgamesh. who wanted to become immortal and who succeeded in this senseless project. He invented. in the softening of the grape. he found it. Where can we decipher it now? In the desperate glance of the animals imprisoned beneath the basement windows of silence? I’m dreaming: does there exist a knowledge outside of our knowledge that our very science forbids and kills? Are we eradicating the peasantry because it carried a knowledge of life inside it that laughs at ours and lets it be known to be deadly? No. Our Mediterranean culture begins. Yet wherever this path was opened the path has never been lacking. One fine day. with the inaugural song of a hero in search of immortality. absolutely. the writer still dreams that he will remain immortal from writing. The new upstarts are destroying the peasantry today and erasing its silent knowledge. it is said. persisted in preserving this heritage. in the incessant reproduction of faithful rams. the text. in the humble and lightning-fast flash of exact intuition. modeled. The great-great … -grandson of his Mediterranean quest. human time has never forgotten the letter or abandoned drawing. It’s always there. save precisely the vine. calculated it—I’m not sure exactly.mute. in the linear engravings on the marble. through agrarian practices. there. the fertile crescent was seized with the desire for immortality. Those that don’t have it never had it. I don’t know why. Four million years ago a few genius ancestors handed down written signs to us in the east of the Mediterranean Sea. and the remainder of the animals? Somewhere in the world in those days claimed to precede the flood. we never say that they invented an immortality. As little as the ox forgets its grass patch or as true culture loses good wine. We have never succeeded in destroying or burning them. Four times forty generations of silent and illiterate peasants. In those days. the bull that was to be sacrificed wasn’t killed. I’m not entirely dreaming. our first parent. he wrote it. Here. just as much as breeding and plowing. The immense miracle was that it found immortality. exploited to death and considered to be nothing. being punished by the water. In fact. We go around saying that these peoples invented a writing. No culture is known that first knew it and then lost it. liv   SYNTHESIS: THE SCIENCE OF HISTORY . perhaps pity was taken on it. fashioned.

This number. perhaps I haven’t dreamed. literally. the being. without remembering the life that wells up. this triangle. We can cultivate deserts. and our rigors but never that they invented an immortality. translate signals from back-worlds. Who decided that day to abolish the death penalty intended for the sacrificial species? Who thought to defer the blood. throwing everything into the fire. or it isn’t lost. Why don’t we invent long traditions any more? Why don’t we incite anything any more except revolutions that scarcely last a generation? Why don’t we discover any more this new knowledge that crosses the percolation threshold of time? What then have we lost to let ourselves go with history. and you’re telling me about vegetables and cattle! Our knowledge governs the global planet and global humanity and will soon no longer leave any place outside of reason. languages and their signs. It’s always there. Breeding. they calculated and demonstrated it. break atoms. inventive. a setting sun. in order to try to discover it? The inventor without hope? Did the great wave of discoveries beyond death stop in Greece the day of the miracle? We go around saying that our Greek ancestors invented our geometry. who leaves home. and shaped it. as did the form. our arithmetic calculation. the presence. cure a thousand diseases. the rectitude.The proud beast returned the favor with a hundred generations and more of silence and proximity. that myth of death. We no longer have anything but monuments of it. knowledge and science. including his sandals. Everywhere the path of mathematicity was opened this path was never again lacking. Either it isn’t discovered. below? Awakening I am no longer dreaming. The Greek miracle marks less a beginning than the moment when a powerful. rigorously invariant from the dawn of Thales or first light of Anaximander. awakened masters of an incredible science. knock over rocks on the moon. the bushing-out of cultivated plants. grew prodigiously in identity. proud and barbarous possessors of an intense power. the reductio ad absurdum. of tamed animals or the crazy proliferation of codes. fashioned. incredibly intelligent knowledge disappears. read the human genome and predict our SYNTHESIS: THE SCIENCE OF HISTORY   lv . Yet they discovered. in the Mediterranean flood. pure reasoning. sowing. indefinitely? Who today will have the gentle thought of everywhere deferring the blood of mankind? Who desires immortality? Who searches for it. Here we are.

supposedly perennial. sources of a multi-millennial river that the hominids. never forgot. in their sum. but transient. there is one that’s more mysterious if possible and that concerns us even more precisely: that of monotheism. rare. What never-ending flow will shoot out from our decisions? Balance sheet This has only happened five or six times.descendants. If certain discoveries don’t pass a year. dictates its law to it. fleeting. So here are at least four inventions. as higher and stronger. as though naturally. ours among them. universally. Likewise. where is your victory?—seem to laugh at history and philosophy. From the moment someone spoke. prehis- toric in the sense that they don’t depend on history and on which. an élan vital that’s indifferent to history or better. so as to attain—or almost—the universal. a short-circuit was installed that went around the world like lightning. we hold in our hands. on the contrary. therefore we too have also reinvented the question of immor- tality: we direct the things and mankind. eternal. The true immortality Now. we don’t remember how language appeared among us formerly mute animals. We are now accountable for a continuation whose lengthening formerly seemed to us to be given. existence and survival. how and when. it also allows them to spread in a lightning-fast way in space. Not only does their power transcend the flow and erosion of time. These four foundations of immortality. If the one God exists. as more irrepressible than them. they likewise don’t cross the smallest distance. Those who invented agriculture and livestock breeding inaugurated a set of relations to the land and life. among these origins and their strange and terrible secrets. it revealed itself: where. as lower and deeper. on the other hand we remember having invented writing and notice that the groups that adopted it never managed to abandon it. Or this short-circuit happened obviously if everyone spoke at the same time. precarious. but immortal discoveries cross space. history depends. under what circumstances? And if it doesn’t lvi   SYNTHESIS: THE SCIENCE OF HISTORY . therefore global deciders of death or of the perpetuation of the planet and all of the species. the flora and the fauna themselves. We know and control their conditions. quickly sown everywhere with tumuli and dolmens. universal foundations—death.

historic and at least roughly datable. these two transcendent universals. This eternity indeed had to begin. independent of us. and the same questions begin again without any notable change. in front of us. less than a millennium before our era. an unforgettable path has been marked out. since then. amid the fertile crescent. of God. the little flows that percolated in an immense field of previous origins must be followed: here they are. but singular since on the first day it seems that they appeared in precise places and that. Hence the search for these two origins. universal with regard to content. and in about the same places. characterize our difference and condition its history. Monotheism and the rigorous sciences. SYNTHESIS: THE SCIENCE OF HISTORY   lvii . An immortal path? Upstream then from one of these two sources. and this one: geometry. it happened that we had the only two thoughts that are really worth much: the preceding one. At the same time.exist we conceived it.

lviii .


2 .

everything was born. origin or one principle of all things: from it. fr.” but a certain other infinite nature.1  FIRST IN HISTORY: ANAXIMANDER Spaces without exclusion: Juridical origins In his commentary On Aristotle’s Physics 1. from which all the heavens and the worlds in them are born: but “that from which there is. From justice to the earth Local elements Anaximander’s contemporary. Thales claimed that water was the element. he wrote. 2. Simplicius cites Anaximander. generation is also how destruction takes place. Anaximander … said that the principle—that is to say. for the beings. 184b15. the element—of beings is infinite … and that it’s neither water nor any other of those that are said to be “the elements. according to the summons of Time.” as he says in rather poetic terms. according to Theophrastus.2. Opinions of the Physicists. is born or will be born. according to what must be. . for they render justice and redress to one another for their mutual injustice.

whereas the other models the world in its whole. from which all things unitarily. in the center and across as in the beginning and now. These two original maps are separated by the local and the global: the one exalts the preponderant excellence of its own country by putting its city and river. In common. but in their diversity. like the Nile. But while the water from the Ocean bathes the earth all around. Around. the two representations show the round and annular shape of the immense ocean that surrounds the globe. whereas the Greek map already virtually aims at the universe. in the central place. But the doxography claims that Anaximander was the first to have the audacity to inscribe the inhabited Earth in such a diagram. the water of the rivers sometimes flows from one to the other. originate. ethnocentric. on which what we would call a map appears under a text engraved in cuneiform characters. at least what the experts of the day knew about it. the Babylonian drawing. What Thales proclaims about genesis in time. whose source is fed from the aquatic ring and flows into the central lake. Space flows like time. is water. Political. it reigns as well in the middle of the inhabited earth. 4   GEOMETRY . the Euphrates. the two maps precisely schematize in space: at the furthest boundaries water dominates. dating from the third millennium. promotional.The British Museum preserves a tablet from Babylon. here is the Mediterranean.

debacle.Against Thales. all things come from it and no doubt return to it. Floods. in the process of being born from the waters. For all these theories. the Tigris and the Persian Gulf—I’m translating into today’s terms. torch. counted the four elements—air. as wide as you wish. surrounded by it or plunged into it. On Anaximander’s map. the principle reduces to something concrete and local. overflowing. What force will make it retreat? If the principle is fire. Heraclitus later opted for fire. Ionian physics subsequently claimed with Anaximenes that air was at the origin. a fragile island encircled by the oceanic ring. even later still. fire. just like the Black and the Caspian Seas. torrential. inundations. the water would have to withdraw in some way. it looks as though the Earth-island. streaming. drop. For a thing that’s different to remain after having freed itself from it. bubble. so that the entire Earth. underminings by erosion. the Danube and the Guadalquivir invade the bathed oikoumene. the Azov Sea and the Red Sea. in suspense. or clod. a shipwreck destiny. Generalization of the conflicts Thus. if the origin is found to be in water. awaits. like Empedocles. is going to disappear at the same time beneath its waves. likewise the world risks quickly perishing in or through the flames. Who has seen a pyre or an inferno go out by itself save from the death of all the fuel through the fire itself? FIRST IN HISTORY: ANAXIMANDER   5 . earth and water—to be roots. Others. even before being born or immediately after.

Its reason for being. federation. drown or smother this torch-world. and the origin or the principle is immediately rectified. 6   GEOMETRY . the reciprocal or mixed laws of Hatred and Friendship. water. fire. the force to blow out. Can the empire of water or of fire render redress to the air for example or to the earth itself for their respective impudence or injustice? Nothing new can appear under the brilliance of a single element. union. and rapidly uninhabitable through suffering this irresistible injustice by which one element dominates. or internecine struggles? The physicist of Agrigentum foresaw. shortened down to nullity. the first Earth. immediate. redundancy. supposedly universal. from fire only blazes are lit … from the four material bodies. Too wet. The world would likewise perish amid a war declared by the four elements. From water. in sum Let all things under the heavens and in the multiple worlds in them therefore render justice and redress for their mutual imperialism. the frenzied dialectic or the natural contract of the four elements—air. equitable. and so quickly that time itself would disappear. and air would have. solar. the bouquet. under the burning risk that all things would explode under the scarlet iniquity of the torches. but invading the expanse with its sole singularity. only the material can occur … in every case identity. exclusive. under pain of the world becoming diluted beneath the soft injustice of the clay of the quagmires. water—together in Empedocles: despotic empire. the concert. The apeiron. whether through drowning or big bang. through the very force that causes it to occupy its own locality. Whence the composition. For everyone understands that water must not dominate. blocks every other being in order to appear in the there. accord. chances appearing any longer. the inextinguishable war. earth. which causes it to be. neither living thing nor language. alliance or vengeance. rapid. Earth. perseveres and grows. both of them in danger of either flood or torch. and that fire must not spread. only the aquatic ensues. lightning-fast. just as temporality is erased from genesis. in both cases annihilation occurs. the dismal repetition of the same element cause beings to lose plurality. Nothing new. together or alone. Through its being. the second one too incandescent. precisely. that answer this dramatic question. the being placed there prohibits the unexpected.

without edges there is no there: islands terminated by water bathing its coastlines. air turbulence. waves surrounded by the fractal cut of their shores. this locality. Here the indefinite or the infinite is opened. water or air. that is to say. limitless. each of the principles chosen by Thales or by Anaximenes with a profoundness that’s still unparalleled. Can every principle be deduced from prosecution. no one in the course of such an experience can detect any border. requires a definition in order to be. a sea or ocean. Once again. the first or the one that wins? FIRST IN HISTORY: ANAXIMANDER   7 . Thus the philosophy of being-there cares about violent occupation and expulsion so as to spread injustice and vengeance.1 Its exasperated abstraction conceals. a pyre or inferno. conviction and punishment?2 Indefinite. knots of flames vibrating through the floating waves of air. or when conversely the absence of heat and the cold cause them to return backwards along the same cycle of evaporation and condensation. a sinister Place de Grève. Local and generalization. in all justice. the spirit hovers over the waters. So in a plea for justice. with each perceptible change an interme- diate state arrives in which the substrate. this there. the principle then must not know any border: neither being nor there. can be said to be either gaseous or liquid. a lake or aqueous place fluctuating within the enclosure—often porous—of its banks. his theory of the origin and the principle can be deduced. indifferently or indefinitely. so free and fertile that every finite and definite comes from it. Is it already the space of phases or the first concept of the philosophy of mixture? Or the impossibility of designating. in order to repeat it. fuzzy sets disturbing the margins of the neighboring fluids. Between these fundamental and first states to which the Ionian compa- triots both rightly reduced the beings of the universe. again That for space and this in time: when fire transforms the solid-earth into liquid-water and this latter into fluid-air. From Anaximander’s statement about justice and vengeance. invaded or defended. one or the other. Anaximander erases the edges of the place where the woodpaths lead. here is the apeiron and the origin of physics. there is no territory without borders. the ancient nocturnal myth of the golden bough in which an anxious shadow. Under pain of injustice. This place. The woodpaths go toward this funerary crypt. armed with a saber in the foliage of a tree. takes his place by killing and only gives it up to his murderer.

it isn’t there. Here justice. The conditions for all abstract knowledge in general have just appeared even before the topology of open sets or the geometry of pure and boundless space is born. is mathematics born from the demand for justice? An equation says a contract of equity. is decided in physical reality. in sum What in no case can this infinite. Anaximander therefore forever marks the explanation of the world with the most formal of thoughts possible: mathematics.3 Immaterial. infinite. nor fire. nor some element of matter: therefore neither principle nor material. No one can see it nor smell it. as well as a possible foundation for physics. In any case. edge or border. therefore absent. abstraction as such. since boundless. or what we would have later named a pre-topology. negatively expressed. local and global. although human. qualitatively or topologically unfurled. for if this were the case. therefore designates not only an immense and boundless space or time. no sense allows us to apprehend it. What is always falsifiable through the integral of negations? Abstraction.The apeiron. Everything happens almost as though it were not. it seems. touch it nor hear it. nor earth. imperceptible and qua intermediate explaining the change … even before the immense space—immersion of the metric—or the infinite time. 8   GEOMETRY . it would be surrounded by a definition. It engenders physics. consequently present everywhere. the two first conditions or the two primordial baths of geometric thought: here are the space-times of immersion at the origin of mathematics. before the topological open set. indefinite. nor air. absent. and without our being able to say that he enters metaphysics since this latter only occurs too late: does philosophy as such occur? What knowledge does he encounter? A pre-geometry. Anaximander has just changed to a different physics rather than leaving it. be? Neither water. but above all. here first of all is the abstract. quantitatively or metrically speaking. Neither there nor elsewhere. without fold. recess or closure. This principle without borders. Abstract. In eliminating water. before them. but above all an open set without border.

therefore traces back to law. grammar made it appear in court. evolution. and like him. there. But the reign of the same must be suspended: either the others then work together toward orchestral mixture. martial violence or the contract that calms it for a moment. the being-there perpetuates its grip. Freed from the victorious and global extension of some being-there. fructification. Has it been remarked with what rigor the grammatical object—the complement of our actions in general and of transitive verbs— is designated by a case whose name precisely—or unjustly—accuses?5 Can it be admitted more clearly that the thing. spring and its flower of youth. So the thing is first this case: the reason for the accusation that attacks and conquers or for the excuse backing the defense and the counter-attack. or the other takes the place. FIRST IN HISTORY: ANAXIMANDER   9 . and all the Ionian physicists extricated themselves. genesis itself and disappearance. these modern philosophies together repeat the obsessions of the Hellenic polytheism from which Anaximander. the latter occupying the inside of the place. birth. the former remaining outside its boundary. formerly local. Thales. objective. we must therefore now trace back to the saying about justice and vengeance. takes its origin from the case. described by the accusative. and time immediately disappears in the stubbornness or coagulation of redundancy. A particular there wins and maintains itself.From the campus to the tribunal Local elements Let water win out or fire … me or you or some empire … a given idea or enterprise … any being of this world … and the singular winner paints space with its color.4 Prosecution and the law therefore precede the physical object. and destructive agony can unfurl their productions. From the principle. the same case or thing vitrifies space and freezes duration. As a result. By spreading. vengeance will no longer cease. and exclusion begins or war. autumn and the serene light of great age. violently interrogated? Before phenomenology can say that the object appears. After Bergson. Heidegger described in the topological terms of open or closed locality what Hegel affirmed in the dynamic schemas of the other and the same. Generalization of the conflicts Time can only occur if the repetition of the identical stops. abstract or drawn by Anaximander from outside the material elements.

law. stems from the summons of time: but before which tribunal? Not only does a new time occur through justice. Which? The first person to inaugurate a judicial session. I give. Economic animals that we are. language. But no one can think the origin without producing it and cannot do this without beginning a new duration. I summon. the one called the praetor. The necessity of the continuation of time justifies not only death as such. the first written word says. he says. like the legendary Europeans fascinated by the shadow with the golden bough. but this time itself summons. announced in the language of ancient Roman law stated in archaic Latin the three primordial verbs of justice: do. with the first letters of the first alphabetic code discovered at the same time in the same places. through or without the intermediary of that coin 10   GEOMETRY . For these paganisms. like them. new no doubt through its decision. Anaximander. Does every being whatsoever of the world give war or peace among themselves over this point of similar status? Do they perpetuate the prosecution.” Without or beneath the appearances of the objects of exchange. of the eternal return of vengeance and its always dismal consequences. The apeiron. they believed. but murders said to be legal as well. are we aware of more fundamental actions than those designated by these tria verba? At the dawn of our era. being-there has to be put to death. For us his successors. the verbs “to say” and “to give” as well as the substantive “summons. I say. Issuing from this tear that’s as close as possible to being-there. at the opening of the cases and things. the first performative acts or statements of exchange. plunged in the night. that no dawn would occur without this abominable crime. talkative and united by the judicial and social contract. and philosophy. addico. the being-there that is there because it murdered the one whose place it took: time and history ensue from the blood of sacrifices. time only advances through the work of the negative: these regressive atrocities are said in such gallantly abstract terms! These philosophies legitimate putting to death. slit the throats of virgins so that the sun would rise. it is said. On the top of their pyramids the Aztecs. whatever language we may speak. dico. Anaximander speaks of that universal injustice. in sum At the dawn of the era. or rather writes. in the Greek language. at the Greek dawn. inaugurates the era from which our history begins. or will they decide to invent a new duration? Everything. Killing opens up succession. or will they stop it? Do they retain the sacrifices whose ritual permits enchaining traditional time to itself.

clemency than that of a thought which abandons its own law (founded on its own strength) and which. I abdicate: I say that I give everything. in opening its despotic boundaries. the title king [anax] in a closed precinct [mandra]. repeated any other words than: “I say. quite precisely. abdico. Because he is named the being-there par excellence and thinks the converse of his title and name. time. I give. in other words. anonymous. in which they are immersed. product. do we authentically do anything else? This is the origin of history. immediately after the renunciation. himself a being and temporal. to summon in his stead.discovered precisely in the same places at the same time. in terms that the doxogra- phers. I give.6 Local and individual. again Do we understand this man’s effort toward the infinite. foolish but truthful without having wanted to be. since time itself starts from this renunciation by Anaximander. And of course have we since then. he leaves it to say. gives. of itself. whose name designates. certain beings give or render justice and redress to one another for their reciprocal injustice. royal being-there? Can we conceive a more beautiful. the detachment of a king? So the saying only holds here by a letter: do. proclaims itself son. productive or even better. thought. Anaximander. I abdicate. performative: on balance founding law. whose origin we find here. a being that no longer perseveres in its being. call poetic. Stemming from the infinite. I give: I say that I abdicate. I summon”? Besides speaking like this. with time itself. or someone who abandons everything? Can we then understand that he opens a time since he renounces the bleak repetition of the force of the self? Do science. with a now common title? Or rather. that is to say. I say. melts into the infinity of things. the withdrawal. like these beings. space and time: since time alone shows an order. engendered by the boundless apeiron and immersed in a time that summons to justice in its stead? Can we finally imagine a local power that imposes restraint upon itself. dico. and which. new. potentate of a site enclosed with boundaries and borders. civilization and history begin from the stepping down. summons before the tribunal where these sentences are rendered. the renunciation. render and give. inaugural in its perpetual present. Magistrate. heedlessly and without always understanding them. says and summons to justice? This is the origin. judge or praetor: must we name Anaximander in this way. Thus says Anaximander. the proto-praetor. FIRST IN HISTORY: ANAXIMANDER   11 . do.

here a force rises that’s second to none. one science. the division of science immediately creates this injustice. the others no doubt receive: proud. and the wealthy receive someday this poverty’s inestimable goods for a justice to occur in the reciprocal exchange of the economy? When will the poor decide to strike this not rare currency they would have in abundance? The violent time of language and silence. again Dico. volatile. Ignorant. or lastly: the concentration. speaks over the waves or appears in talkative and mobile images on the television. either: there is only one Bible. of knowledge or inexpertise. along its own networks. offended. the editorial monopoly of the encyclopedia of knowledge condemns the inexpert to poverty and hunger. I give. Because he writes. Must the poverty-stricken repay in turn. Dico. are you going to teach me your wisdom. The West keeps its speech in colloquia or spreads it over the waves. my voice spreads through the surrounding air by impudently occupying a volume that’s larger than that of my organism. the arrogant euergetes sprinkles his niche again with his gilded excrement. stay silent. To morality? Generalization Do. monopoly. or drugs. of movable goods and their arbitrary rarity. that is to say. and I in turn will have to keep quiet for a just equilibrium of sounds and meaning to occur through dialogue or contract. which I am strangely lacking? So when will those who think they know nothing teach what they know to the very ones who think they know and delude those around them into believing it through an unjust and old impudence? Do. Addico. thus the nightingale defends with music a niche that a dog holds by means of its urine. holds money in its banks or makes it run. my older brother. a given individual holds an incon- gruous space without any reasonable relation to his person. I hold the others in subjection to keep them away from expertise. deafened. which is little. I know. Through finance. quickly exclusive. possesses knowledge in its laboratories and reserves for itself the 12   GEOMETRY . I talk. should the others around me. that have the force of their law. the capitalization.Local. poor. the entire collective human history therefore summons us all to justice. they will nevertheless have to answer me someday.

without exclusion. justly for the law. Have we lived. namely the single foundation. Since only time decides. the fact that it alone summons to justice founds the history we live and the one that we know. the apeiron must be imagined as a mixed body. without exclusion. rigorously for knowledge. exclusive and without restraint. The apeiron opens the spaces and times of every contract. we pass from a given state to some other. and holy. division without exclusion. without exclusion. In sum: for the physical phases. without exclusion. and with goodness for morality. history as the indefinite. for unpredictably. but also its unique power to know and to say. without our being able to say or foresee it. Let everyone. be able to attain knowledge and here is. equilibrium of goods and gifts. and here is the natural contract. It can therefore kill with impunity. to power. In unfolding Anaximander’s saying in this way. background noise? Dialectic? Social contract? This remains undecidable. Thus it founds law. from conflicts to armistices. inconceivable up until yesterday morning. of science and of law. via justice and redress. the social contract of mutual education. Thus goes not only its will. safeguards the law of its courts by force of arms: its cause is therefore good. Let lastly all the beings of the world obtain the right of expression. noble. chaos. just. the geometrical abstract. since Anaximander. from peace to crises. not only its desire to possess without restraint and without equal. without exclusion. the first two moments of my explication thus distinguish what he didn’t distinguish. Because without exclusion can translate it at a stroke. for we are no longer separating what he melted together with a single gesture and which our niggling weaknesses separated later. Here we have returned to the age of Anaximander since we’re conceiving a law for all the beings of the world. democratic. all three together without distinction. dense and compact. before the excluded third. The apeiron. at the beginning of the time of our history. innumerable sum of reparations? We have long known the demand of distributive justice. from Aristotle to our schools. in sum Everyone speaks: hubbub.right to only teach it to those among them who already know. FIRST IN HISTORY: ANAXIMANDER   13 . the judicial peace or political democracy.

Anaximander’s city.”8 Payment is deduced from redress. during the legendary reigns of Midas or the shepherd Gyges. like the very one we are living in. as a means of payment: “from what we know. almost simultaneously. from which the foundation of geometry will bifurcate. every- thing transforms. therefore these exchanges are deduced from injustice. a few legends in any case—including the one told by Plato of the ring that makes invisible. That very thing which attains this unitary foundation. in which the restructurings concern the entire horizon of the thinkable and experience. a reflection concerned with the foundation of law. according to what Herodotus tells us. or the legend of the king who received from the gods the unlucky fortune of changing everything he touched into gold—refer to this authentic or false origin.” wrote the historian. “the Lydians were the first to strike and use gold and silver coins in order to devote themselves to retail. with the name of the earth. We don’t know how to verify if Herodotus’s affirmation is worthy of our trust. but we can be led to believe it to be true by a reason of homogeneity. currency came from there via the Silk Road. curious ovoid coins began to circulate instead of the ingots used in Babylon and Egypt. an agnos- ticism critical enough to discover a certain monotheism. just like that hand whose absent presence Adam Smith claimed directs the market economy behind the scenes. and we will immediately recognize one of those rare moments in history. lastly philosophy appear at the same time. in the kingdoms of Lydia and Phrygia. along the river Pactolus. more ancient in China by half a millennium. not far from Miletus. 14   GEOMETRY . or if. Has there existed since then in the West a single philosopher who didn’t try to find the common point from which he could think together two laws [lois] and two truths: of the sciences and of law [droit]?7 The market place Local elements Beneath the same Ionian lights. at first no doubt to compensate crimes and thefts—so that the ones and the others may render justice and redress for their mutual injustice—but little by little. as though the world in its whole were veering. instead of barter. the objective physics of the things of the world. a certain abstract science. whose sands carry gold. Far from us recognizing a remarkable and isolated invention in this. must be called philosophy. Should during a given epoch the non-syllabic alphabet with vowel notation.

Mixture therefore imposed itself from the first and consequently the apeiron or absence of all boundary between the exclusive precious elements. bearing another but similar name for equilibrium or equity. the due date summoned to justice. For what reason did an alloy appear to be necessary? Generalization of the conflicts Florins from Florence. these first coins. or signature. ducats struck by the reigning doge in Venice. did the new social bond suddenly appear. said gold coins that circulated once and formerly also only contained precious metal in the state of alloy. through arithmetical counting and this new equivalence which resembled a justice. everything that has made us live and think up to last week began almost at the same time: the algebraic element of the general equivalent. what mysterious relation did this name maintain with the word (elector) that for Empedocles designates fire and its brightness? Succeeding violence and the contracts of law. an alloy whose color recalled yellow amber enough for its contemporaries to call it electron. guaranteed with his seal. as though without borders. face. bezants from Byzantium. an innermost and fluid penetration. writing and metallurgy … were born. We are surprised above all at the fact that circulation from the origin abandoned pure gold or silver coins. in sum responsible for the rhythm and tempo of the history it engendered or dismantled? We are indeed comparing the extinguishment of a debt to that of a fire! Consequently. the continuous dilution of wine and water. even deducible from this latter. and like it. Apart from the shade. whose precise fineness the issuer. Greek language and philosophy recall this Anaximandrian concept as soon as they meditate on the difference between mixis. stamped. like a good author. FIRST IN HISTORY: ANAXIMANDER   15 . abstract twice over. were melted it seems to the fineness of 4/5 pure gold and 1/5 silver. a discrete mixture of grains of rice lost among the grains of wheat. all the way to the recent Napoleons. with solid proximities and definite edges. Hermes follows from Mars. money thus embarked on the new history of this new world. and krasis. Along the Ionian coast. where geometry. Identical to each other. such as we still practice them today. So certain beings of this world began to give to one another and to account for themselves or render redress for their mutual debts. as lightning-fast as Heraclitus’s principle. constructive and destructive.

the naivete of the one who hides by setting apart. or imprint. present. once again: because of this obstacle. no doubt play all these abstract functions. For some person receiving a given price at the end of a transaction could scrape off a corner of the coin and offer it again for the same value. by a kind of interest. the precious. but above all materially prevent all plundering by sordid clipping: the engraved sign guarantees the invariance of the sign-bearing thing and protects its integrity neither more nor less than a kind of locked cover. to protect. representative or signing. money didn’t flow. invisible. removing the thing they thought put in a safe place in this way. and light quickly shines in an obscure recess. the gold in the mobile coin gave itself to all comers? The value would vanish at the same time as the coin’s material. Losing one body in another or the latter in the former. Visible. accessible. almost finishes all the rest. because a container hides and defends a content poorly as soon as the one is separated from the other. and the desig- nation on the part of the box itself of the precise place where the treasure lies. the notion of the black box. however tightly its cover may lock. If you pay in florins or Napoleons. in everyone’s hands. you will never deduct the smallest bit from this gold without it being accompanied by this base metal. exhibited. Yet it happens that their edge is adorned with cuts or serrations in close vertical ranks to prevent users from trimming their corners or clipping them. the rare in the common and reciprocally. assured him. added to a thousand similar erosions. remains inaccessible to theft. absent. The distinction already does half the work of opening up. What use then does alloy have? Once again. Everything closed opens at a short due date. it flows now. Thus currency melted from hand to hand: the detailed drawing stabilized it. Has a more effective putting in secret ever been found? However volatile its course may be. conspicuous. keeping in his possession that minute part whose lightness. the coin becomes the most stable of safes. The striking. In comparison. irreversibly hidden. separating. a greedy revenue from theft. the recipient holds the desired metal but won’t quite possess it: you both handle the box without knowing how to or being able to open its lock. Although present. public. but 16   GEOMETRY . without meaning to. there. you render gold lost in a mixture: you give apeiron. Percolation. notching. mark. locked away. What would happen if. covered beneath the indefinite. akin to writing and preceding printing. said to be symbolic. The Latin origin of the term “secret” describes. Circulation can therefore speed up as soon as possession goes absent a bit. seems naive and silly. subtracting.

of law and of morality. hence its rapidity. Lastly justice: neither vengeance nor violence will find their victim any more. Before chemistry became the scientific art of mixtures. I know not what meaning vanishes into sensation. sparkles with gold louis. Brilliant to the eyes. hard or soft.which—whether exhibited or concealed. This is what the course of currency did at first. plunged boundless into the minuscule particles that contain them without containing them. hence its stability. summing up the origins of alloys and currency. like Cain. the cunning of thieves wins out over the intelligence of the police. As a general rule. Tell Cain to hide no more: rather become mixed! The apeiron. men.9 The soul unites with the body the way the gold in the louis does with the less precious metals and get lost in each other down to the most minuscule part. Mixed or boundless. and phenomenology should only talk about mixture. boxes or darkness. of contracts and of history. The mixture or alloy guards fortunes better. beauty in women or reason with the universe. just as matter does in life. Formerly effective. of the abstract. the things. through alloys melted into coins. the bodies of all types abound in alloys. the apeiron becomes a space of circulation: it thus crosses the percolation threshold. a space of phases. which gets lost in turn. neighboring secrets remain highly inaccessible. the alloys of bodies pure among themselves—giving to one another justice and redress for their mutual injustice—it was expressed in the incomprehensible language. without secrets. of the site and of the metric. or scholars will not be able to discover my mummy in its sarcophagus. for FIRST IN HISTORY: ANAXIMANDER   17 . which defend themselves in this way from the hard thoughts. and conversely. in sum When the surrounding compost becomes impregnated with my body in liquefaction. pure and distinct. my flesh with earth. the prowlers. bandits. of analytic tactics and strategies. across meaning: appearance. The world. Here is the origin of the economy. then between the precious and base metals. Here then the space of circulation opens twice since the apeiron erases the bounds between the things of barter through the invention of the general equivalent. dazzling. mixed. it doesn’t matter—by their very gesture they designate as a pile of money to be stolen. a space of violence. of metamorphoses. a first defense consisted in constantly changing place. therefore about apeiron.

soon die. Every delimited terrain boils down to a fortified place: the there produces the unjust and useless war waged by the being-there. inaccessible. certain people then wage war. plants. whose secrets no doubt reside as well in alliances of words and of meanings melted together. evident. born from her virginal beauty. in return. coins. a God whose Son our relations glorify or kill and whose Spirit our aspirations lighten or fell. an infinite God hidden but endlessly present in every tiny particle of idea or atom. everyone comes too late. kill to keep them. a soldier or 18   GEOMETRY . Here is the old time from before Anaximander. Alchemy made an assessment of the techniques of forgery and the means to guard against it. I’m lost in you. mixed. I have lost you. The one who gives himself the title of philosopher must have found this holy stone when he announces distinction and purity. through a concern for justice. fight to acquire them. oh. Templum Local element Repetition: all the places are always already taken. after the kingly mode of the legendary Midas of those days. lost amid the things and the men. love and intelligence by the winds. at least since Anaximander. humbly mixed with the earth of the animals. The one who would therefore invent the philosopher’s stone would be the one who knows how to draw fine gold from these inextricable mixtures or change everything he touches into gold.those days as for today. analysis and separation: we ought to call him a triumphant alchemist. my alloyed ally. and words whose meaning shines forth and hides. like wine into the absent springs of the ocean. I have lost you. and the vendetta begins again from generation to gener- ation. The ordinary men that we have become. exchange among themselves. a rare and gentle goodness in the mass of evil mixed like you with the world and with me. fineness of being. my sole secret. incarnated in the innermost part of myself down to the hollows of my bones and to the last echo of my cried-out words. a God lost in the universe. Summa pre-theologica Alloyed with everything and everyone. even though you pour. youth into my life and your wisdom into mine. To seize the held places. or with the flesh of the woman when you were. and stars when you created them. of alchemy. must at their death abandon them to their murderers.

inert or living. its indefinite opening gives generation to being by producing the infinite profusion and equivalence of places. things or cases. but he is headed toward it. the island surrounded by water. men or objects. not with the proper name of the one God nor with the common name of a god from the Pantheon. the country inside borders. discover the entirely new. flowers and the gods. Athena is opposed to Aphrodite’s schemes. or better. Leave the there. FIRST IN HISTORY: ANAXIMANDER   19 . precisely boundless. Indeed. for such an individuality isn’t conceived as boundless: Zeus’s power limits Poseidon’s. infinite space and time. in this original elsewhere. in the dense and compact ball of beings. what should we call that “certain other infinite nature. in order to remain in place. exactly immaterial. To abstract himself from the combats being- there obligates him to. the apeiron. delimited by its living hedge or its machicolations: the plot of land. without distinction of status. as Xenophanes. the finder innovates. ubiquitous. By it. with it and in it. lacking all classes.better. spread everywhere without border. technological or natural. ceaselessly engenders the sky and the earth. whereas at the Greek dawn as during the age of the Natural Contract a single language speaks of every- thing. too. the founder of the Eleatic school did. Beyond individual boundaries. Anaximander doesn’t propose one of the individual figures of polytheism for the non-definite apeiron. insofar as this latter remains a Person. the hearth of warmth and light. but with a substantivized adjective. an infinite space. the elements. the different skies and the innumerable worlds. Anaximander therefore generalizes the divine impersonally. invent a new one. from which all the heavens and the worlds in them are born” if not the divine from which the universe comes? Aristotle was the first to name it thus. mystic or institutional.10 Generalization of the conflicts Don’t look for a place. spiritual: geometric? Justice and peace spread across the infinite overabundance of the indeterminable places of this prior space. therefore of us. leaves the world and discovers. he doesn’t attain the God of monotheism either. violence. A fertile and unengendered love. hardware or software. I live appeased or think without weighing. Again. a lieu-tenant. in the equanimity of conciliation and concord. tethered to the chain of vengeances and redresses. We hold a thousand and one different discourses on the subject of this rigorous dispersion. as well as all the living beings: it produces the beings Anaximander speaks of.

Each divinity takes a department. and subjugating the volcanoes. Poseidon. Aetius and Cicero claimed Anaximander had and said this last perception since they respectively write that the infinite heavens and the innumerable worlds. so as to define. whereas they kept or invented a global religious. while Zeus governs the Olympian heights wielding lightning bolt and fire. assisted by Amphitrite and forty-nine Nereids. of the boundless firmament as well as through the changing beauty. again Among the thousand distinctions that our rational strength and philo- sophical languor impose upon us. The conflicts between the gods and their mean-spirited. whose insistency deified the city’s eponym. power … Aristotle understood: matter. Surely not. spring-like or winter- like. They have to be called Physicists because they abandoned the civil religion. Universal? Did they invent the hard sciences through abandoning a polytheism of difference. And nevertheless yes. gods. or Athena. In the water Poseidon reigns. universal noise. the archaic equivalent of our social sciences? Local elements. of the world: various definite profiles of the divine infinity. Aphrodite. that divine that’s immanent to the universe. since they most often criticized the individual persons represented by the Greek or Ionian pantheon. a divine that’s coextensive with the infinite space of the heavens and worlds. bright or nocturnal. harassing cohabitation 20   GEOMETRY . were to his eyes the way they sometimes are to ours. the royal function or the legislator’s role. in both senses of this adverb. unengendered. The infinite universe bears witness to the divine.eternal. in so far as they appear and disappear. Zeus. like every genus or species. at least because they wanted to ignore distinctions. generative … space. time. productive or destructive. the war that the elements were engaged in earlier is translated into figures by a certain physicalist polytheism. the valiant warrior or the fertile woman. it shines with it or sings it through the epiphany. in particular the one between science and religion. fundamental background noise … essentially physical and intuitable like what fills the universe and which we perceive aesthetically. We read in many places that the Pre-Socratic philosophers invented physics because they abandoned religion. because they disdained what the social projects into the religious. sometimes. the terrible thunder. here are those whose divisions cause the religious to war against each other. I think I understand: primitive chaos.

more logical. and the first of which. impersonal monotheism of the apeiron integrates the divine and the universe: FIRST IN HISTORY: ANAXIMANDER   21 . global and abstract. plus all the social or human sciences. which will afterwards describe less well bonds and passions. seek to exclude it with all their strength. of its credo will confess the pronoun ego. adapt or soften it. more anthropological. less numerous than the polytheisms. the ones. roles and functions. Conversely the return of this polytheism is always tied to the triumph of the social sciences. Did the Pre-Socratic philosophers abandon the first for a certain secularity corresponding to the second? Hence far from abandoning religion. Apollo dominates. archipelago or country … then the familial. village. itself entirely new. exchanges and acts. naturalize it. the flood and the torches. the new subject of faith. include it. colored by conflicts and contracts. the others. born with Christianity. The pantheon summarizes the first physical sciences: you might think that a Thales of water was announcing or repeating Neptune and that the Zeus of fire was supporting Heraclitus. immanent to the world or to nature. Athena reigns. of the four more recent ones. and sometimes risk by this very fact causing it to return. The adjective. personal. on the island of Delos. non-subjective. unwritten. was born in the fertile crescent from Abraham’s posterity and the writer prophets of Israel. her islands … Themis organizes justice. acropolis. cultural. Eros our loves … Each god takes a place: a patch of ground. which are defined like the other two in relation to polytheism and almost against it. the geographical there and its multi- colored maps.summarize everything that was said about water and earth. that the historians of religion avidly liked at the end of the past century. might they have merely changed it so as to express it differently? Not much time separates them from the appearance of the monotheisms. the first word. their affects and destiny … The pantheon summarizes the political maps. domesticate it. Islamic or Protestant. tend to absorb it. for the second one. On the Acropolis. The tribal or collective paganism which the sociologies or social sciences will later make their object is distinguished fairly well then from the physicalist paganism. Artemis hunting. the elements of matter. Catholic or Orthodox. just like Aphrodite on Cythera or Cyprus. collective or judicial bonds of persons.

When it is rightly said that the Pre-Socratic philosophers talk about beings without distinction. sive. ruled first. allows the All to appear. as in niches. the first exploits: they draw us away from Zeus and consorts to throw humanity face to face with the object: here is water. first led by his peers on the physicalist side. To Thales and Anaximenes. invents Physics. In some fashion Anaximander reveals God. God. on the side of the social sciences. global. in sum concerning all polytheism. natura. then perfected by him. Without this new monotheism whose one principle explains the world. therefore allows arranging them under a single law. without exclusion. but of a powerful work on the divisions already there. certainly not the God of Abraham. Isaac and Jacob. our distinctions were already making good progress.because he abandons social and civic polytheism in order to adopt a divine that’s immanent to the world. didn’t the renaissance West reinvent it for a similar religious reason? For the entire seventeenth century drifted toward the immanentism of Deus. allows considering beings whatever they may be. Moreover in mathematizing physics. tribal and collective. but the universal. civil and social religion. that very thing which is going to be born: Deus. Anaximander accomplished the second labor of Hercules in gener- alizing these objects to the indefinite. while waiting for Heraclitus’s fire. all distinction. sive natura. in those recent eras. in deifying this infinite: we can henceforth conceive rational laws or a logos of the world. the Messiah—could snatch the laws of nature from the most powerful of human legislators. Generalization of the conflicts Before the beginning of this history. The double doubt as regards polytheism. added-up divine of the philosophers and scientists. sive natura. there is air. that is to say. Anaximander. and in particular on those of the polytheisms. 22   GEOMETRY . without exclusion. in the intelligible heaven of Plato’s dialogues. adjective. among others. Only a single and incarnated God—Deus. God. Spinoza leads to atheism through the intoxication of God and to physics through religion. we should above all affirm that it’s not a question here of an origin effect. that is to say. freed therefore from Zeus’s thunder and Poseidon’s ludicrous trident. unitary. the various ideas remain idols: they will become so again. placed. But. that is to say. who were formerly and still are divine by this very fact.

namely. again demands from us the difficult duties of the sciences. blended. after its victory in the war of the giants. collective. one adding up the refined local distinctions of the sciences.The apeiron. in sum Entirely different from a reign without division. Its time suddenly flows in the present. so that it advances toward a religious we haven’t yet conceived of. Anaximander’s apeiron is a pre-name of God. We no longer understand either of them because we adore false gods. the politics and the moralities. and soldanellas … yes. of Zeus—an idol. objective. under the green and perennial grass. the laws. that therefore binds or will bind the faith of my innermost self. he nonetheless crushes. whose breadth bridges or will bridge all the others. the pertinent reasons of the pathetic. pagus Local elements In the demanding paradise or garden of alpine pastures. At the same time in the Fertile Crescent. but conceives what precisely has neither place nor time. asters. the infinite of the objects of the universe and the collective or universal love of mankind. of the aesthetic. of technical action and of charity. Hortus. Martagon lilies. the bursting growth of the blossoming opens and unfolds varieties that are chiné. when a wet beginning of summer edges its way into the sharpness consecutive to a glacial spring. subjective. mauve campanulas and the almost black rampion bellflowers. For in these days when the second millennium is drawing to a close. Like Anaximander. insistent today. FIRST IN HISTORY: ANAXIMANDER   23 . fetish or totem of fire and of certain villages—monotheism doesn’t generalize some triumph of injustice to time and space. at altitudes where old pink rhododendron rule by long bushes and in the indistinct zones where the most respectful mountaineers on the move leave the forest paths to soon reach the inert austerities of snow and rock. of philosophy and of prophecy. tiger-striped. saxifrages and quasi red azaleas. we never cease to live the origin of religion. whitish astragali. whether unitary or dispersed. zebra-striped. Permanent and recurrent in the so-called monotheist civilizations. vanilla orchids. of the physical. prophets and philosophers were therefore destroying idols. a new universal is being announced. yellow globeflowers. a hundred patches where blue columbine are composed and mixed with anemones and purple gentians and periwinkles. polytheism.

then the entire slope the next season. whose spangled polychromy exceeds the exclusive resolution of the gaze. red. in the original Eden. by caresses and touch. after this sin. swells: the local tends toward the global. Martagon lily … here he is returning to the dawn of language. by wholes.11 Supposing that the saxifrage is found alone or in the majority there. hoping to attain. even lightning-fast. the fragrant intoxication of multiplicities whose tones astonish him: yellow. billions of imperious invaders of space and time flowed out. and if it remains. the horizon reddens with the rhododendron’s monopoly. he loves to plunge his hands into this palette. finally the Piedmont and the Queyras. nevertheless. black. the homogeneous prevails over the variegated. every life becomes generalized: this is the injustice of the humble columbine. is time [temps] in league with the temperate multi- plicity or alliance of things. every being tends toward being. every garden does justice. it had the power to occur. 24   GEOMETRY . Via engendering. while at the bend of the valley. Here. if the coalition of vanilla orchids and campanulas doesn’t put any obstacles in the way of its invasion. and he itemizes the fragrances: sweet. is going to win out over the hues. aster. Conversely. or when a single species rules? Will we experience the end of time? In other words. on this south-facing slope. there the orchids eliminate the azalea: variety is erased. insofar as it is there. Hence the acute anxiety of every living thing: what will happen then when the world is only rose. it will invade the clearing this year. From Eve’s womb. If it is. an immense lake of blue suddenly reveals the exclusive solitude of the gentians. Logic. Upon stopping. greedy. so as to in the end set about naming: soldanella. temper. blue. borders of boxwood and classifications. the first injustice in the garden paradise corresponded to the forward flight of a species through the crack of the fall or of the swelling. with the well-tempered or spangled bouquet of flowers? Does it moderate. Every there. next the big mountain. How much time would it take for it to occupy the entire planet? Quickly. it retains the power of continuing. musky. Who will limit its generic pride if not the identical arrogance of the astra- galus or rather the mutuality of the flowers? Therefore through its divisions and its flowerbeds. summon by some justice everyone’s imperial pretensions? Yes. persistent. many-colored. the yellow expels and crosses out the black.iridescent. heady. Generalization of the conflicts There and farther on.

carnal. like an angel. Engendered by the infinite. The infinite. the only and incarnated son. at the slender border that separates the columbine from the azalea? Who crosses. recompense and punishment confused together. individual persons. to take all the places and therefore to stop the clock. local. boil down to war. the infinite becomes that in which justice occurs. in sum Does this orchestral meadow in which each colored corolla holds a singular score. the divine subsists. in this taken place. again: What the walker says Here. apeiron. power—engenders and adds up all the beings of the world and each one of us. all different: the smooth universality envel- oping and sustaining. constituting the madly many-colored universality of the beings. insofar as it is engendered. where I am. to a strict algorithm of places taken and retaken. Local. the divine indefinite—space and time. incarnation then FIRST IN HISTORY: ANAXIMANDER   25 . the border of the difference between the alterities? Answer: love. while respecting it. in the innermost of the innermost. it doesn’t know any hermetic boundary and crosses them. There. to the mutual exclusion of species and individualities. but leave aside all claim to hold this site and abandon it to the divine. Amid that general mêlée of living things. Through the differentiation whose mêlée produces this harlequin floral patch. singular. I exist. might the valiant walker have suddenly lost Eden?12 The apeiron. does the flowers’ reciprocal face to face come from an irremediable war or from an armistice contract that the species signed between each other? How do they give each other justice and redress for their mutual injustice? By a peaceful symphony or by the cacophonous fracas of the bouquets: paradise. hell? What happens in the vicinity of the yellow and the blue.through their omni-presence. of reciprocal vengeances? Do the historiated varieties of flora draw geographical maps on the slope identical to those that men of every culture in every era painted on the terrestrial topography with the impure blood of their families and enemies? During the flowering season. whose bursting polyphony lets us understand why mosaic claims the same name as music. I place myself in its hands.

In every other case. 26   GEOMETRY . Therefore. innocent and sinful. salvation. Infinite space. neither virginal nor angelic. passing before all the tribunals of false or true justice.suffers its passion of injustice. whose unpredictable order follows fault or sin. whose parents left the garden of paradise through the crack of the fall so as to invade the earth with their unjust swelling. often violent. Before the will. it too without weight or there. I’m incarnated. like being. a Virginity could no doubt live full of gratuity. before the Advent. blessed and dolorous image I am. already participate in pretentious or excessive arrogances. dead on Good Friday. breathing. of grace. is always paid for with some weight. intrepid walker? Where are you passing through? Why not content yourself with your house and your there? For what reason are you taking the path that leads to the useless and dangerous summit from which you’ll inevitably come back down? Isn’t crushing the mountain’s patches of floral multiplicities with your shoes already your injustice? What war are you waging on humble species that hardly bother you? Are you too behaving like the columbine? Whereupon he answers: “I belong to the genus that flees forward. pierced. whose contrasted. Real time summons to justice. its very physical being. presence. sometimes wicked. lastly the Sunday and Easter resurrection of the Incarnated. generations and destructions according to time.” Before the Incarnation. flogged. And even if I stopped in my first dwelling. never without mass. existence and its mass of flesh and space. therefore I occupy local space and I participate in the attractive vector. during the era of the announced Word. drinking or weighing on my sustentation would already consume or parasitize some being of the world. the divine adds up these singular incarnations. surrender and redemption.” “I exist. on Christmas. there.” “Did a being ever exist for free. or the project. And the there wounds through being. put on a cross to redeem the sins of the world: generation takes place in and through the divine infinite. I weigh. Being wounds through the there. I repeat. The French language has chosen to think starting from the body and from its weight of flesh. full of grace? The incar- nation. Where are you climbing to. that is to say. irreversibly. injustice. that of the finite divine. To be wounds. condemned. therefore I think. reparation. cost or injustice. therefore I cost. but destruction takes place too.” “I don’t exist for free. And I only think by the very fact that I weigh. thought itself unjustly causes violence.13 I am. she received the Angel. saved. like a parrot. therefore I weigh.

equality or equity. to give more than I received … but I was or lived in such a way that my life. although so often irregular that no one knows how to read. to redeem or repair the iniquity of being-there. Generalization of the conflicts This law of pulsation flows from justice. requires paying back this marvelous miracle with its vanishing. the immense breadth of the conquered field of consciousness and acquired experience with a long and dark involution. or that I work. Being-in-the-world is assessed as: the first takes from the latter more than it gives back. on the tips of my toes. through the mixture of my own atoms with those of the universe. the violence of the living thing shooting up thickly and highly. insofar as it merely burned. necessarily took at least the place of a possible being or consumed the food from which another living thing could have taken sustenance. I’m not rigorously symbiotic.” “Existence is an exception that. as this latter word indicates. equalization. its point of intense light with the hole of a dark well. the insolence of being with emptiness and cession. immediately starts on his Passion. I’ve tried my entire time to live independent from all injustice. to traverse life lightly. or in such a way that my being.” “That I cede therefore becomes naturally just. from birth. with the peace of sleep. a law which shows the fall of FIRST IN HISTORY: ANAXIMANDER   27 . suffer and die. its brightness with dark shadow.” Every son of man. existence is equivalent to the price of this discrepancy. eternal. as though archangelic. So we must pay for the place and reimburse duration. my hosts. to make no noise around me or do any evil to anyone. foresee or predict it. give back fuel and nourishment to all those I nourished or clothed myself from. lastly give up all this remainder and return to symbiosis. rare. to never deliver combat for any reason whatsoever. once a volume of heavy flesh is acquired. insofar as it occupied a place. a time. presence with forgetfulness. energy and some other living things. attentively. time. put back into the world the force that my organism borrowed and. as little as I want it to be so. discharge the discrepancy or debt of my residual parasitism. because an equation imposes itself. my surprise taking with a gracious gift. whose equilibrium requires paying for my life with this return to nothing. unjustly captures more than it gives back. it was necessary to pass before the tribunals for assessment and to end up in violent death on the Cross for redemption: injustice and justice rendered and given. But after the birth. nevertheless parasitize space. to only borrow places that were free before me. on Christmas. “And therefore.” “I therefore count merely living or being as an injustice since my being and my life.

the theory of the parasite and of the living thing. mixed like the mosaic of Harlequin’s tunic. the final equity at the end of time? An electroencephalogram where the myriads of fluctuations and waves become flat again. this general equalization or final equilibrium will let us see the equality. blended. devoted to autumn and peace … Is it possible. 28   GEOMETRY . as the extinction of every Maxwell’s demon. for a balance that adds up all that existed. If the erasure of all difference sounds the end of all evolution. its place and the future months to another world. the cessation of every iniquity. Are we in sight of universal synopsis here? I no longer understand that everything ends without justice. the equivalence as well or equation of every balance pan. If a general constant exists—and it exists. might become the final and just sanction for every existence? For if this word signifies a divergence from equilibrium. of itself. Do we finally understand why we call these little promoter-accountants of every difference demons? Because they carry divergence. thermodynamics. constellated. as though the most exact scientific rationalism wasn’t saying anything other than the demand or hope for justice and the theological eschatology of the tradition. at the exact second when the end of times arrives. a terminal thermodynamic equivalence of every difference by the billions. in compensation. the probable principle of a universal constant of violence lead us to think a natural law founded on a global conception of time. is the final judgment defined. the judge? … according to the summons of Time … says Anaximander. in sum Physics. does the set of such divergences converge lastly toward a total balance. is exactly equivalent to the advent of the reign of justice. that a duration. added up as though a general integral. the impudent prince of this world! The apeiron. equity. as the end of the world? And since we know to define this end exactly in this way. existence and injustice at the same time: Satan’s innumerable and minuscule small change. at the limit. as well as the world delivered over to war or to the summer giving up. many-colored. since without it we wouldn’t be able to weigh or think anything—then the law is just as natural as equilibrium and its divergence are laws of nature. isn’t time. that is to say.leaves and empires repaying equity for their invasion of space and history. in measure and rigor. Therefore the end of times.

closer to the apeiron than FIRST IN HISTORY: ANAXIMANDER   29 . starting from the present. came to clearly supplement the manual skills. here it is. humus or metal. artisans or artists. Is it beginning now? From the start of a new mountain climb? Nature. becoming exactly universalized. at the end of this trimillennial fragment that separates us from Anaximander. Here it is. whose expansion when heated scatters everywhere unpredictably. locally delimited and distinct from the laboring body: a practical capacity pointed toward a precise place whose edge was being cut out by this super- sharp point. crystals exactly cut by the work. When the Industrial Revolution came. in such a way that outside the hot and sonorous forge. both were intervening in objects. accompanied by a pair of oxen. conceived. for liquids and gases respect bounds less than solids. decided. cut through the ground with a turning plowshare. promoted in its whole. technology. its dynamism and completion. was growing. of the active subjects. whose motor effectiveness multiplied the machines using fire and combined them into tremendously aggressive systems. its laws. silence and coolness continued to reign elsewhere. society Local elements Let’s speak then about the very first thought of our historical era written in alphabetic code. theoretically and practically objective. precise and rigorous—than on fluids—water and air. that is to say.No origin is decided except at the opening of a new global time. So the burning project of intervention became generalized through focusing from then on less on solids—earth. nature. Sledgehammer or plow. multiple and free. and worked objects. behind the hedge enclosing the square of wheat. their tools therefore worked on the objective. Generalization of the conflicts Transforming the things of the world through work assumed this separation of active subjects. or in such a way that around the field where the wheat was excluding the other species of flora with the force of its law. formerly practi- cally blind. this face to face couple subsisted all the more so because science and technology. When the blacksmith struck the hot iron on the anvil or when the farmer. stones or metals.

the universal hotel or host for inert things. The massification of the subjects of intervention obligate them. Consequently. and these latter became subjects. active. neither more nor less than us. Formerly in one direction— the hammer on the iron that only responded. the pride in our effectiveness. without knowing it. like the mountain flowers. And it was done. suddenly knowledgeable and strong enough to speak equal to equal with it. the subject-object relation was doubled. techni- cians. Returned to the origin. All beings became equalized in an identical status.them. scientists. in sum It then happened that our interventionist actions succeeded beyond the expectations we had for said project so that the global world reacted. the subjects to each other 30   GEOMETRY . the former subjects. consequently lose the pointed clearness of our projects. the climb to the global integrates the world. thinking. workers. A blind movement impels us from behind without our being able to make out or decide where it comes from or where it’s leading us. we decided to change the world or to renew the face of the Earth. to conduct themselves as politicians according to laws vaguer than those to which science habituated them. We became. industrialists. The apeiron. And it responded to us like a quasi-subject. Who then gives justice and redress for a mutual injustice? Certainly the objects to each other. to the actions of our new tools. whose heads no longer know who directs the work project of transforming things and no longer master the acquired mastery. Of course. we no longer see any difference between a peace among men and a contract between flowers. of itself. the distinct clarity of our reason. suddenly put into doubt. objects among others. in return. We. with an unexpected response on the part of the second term of the relation as soon as the flows of our effectivenesses reached its whole set. as in the originary times when Anaximander wrote for the first time in alphabetic code. at the same time. but also the group that works on it. including the atmosphere and seas. world-objects produced by human know-how in order to attain the dimensions of the planet and whose global effectiveness attained it in its totality. become objects. for living species and ours in particular. garbage collectors all mixed together. with its cherry-red glowing and the vibrating and quasi musical resonance from which Pythagoras drew his scale—. silent and passive. the world lost its mute status of being the objective set of passive objects of appropriation so as to again become what it had never stopped being. in group.

The diverse paths from the local to the global form. therefore give each other. A historical re-equilibration is occurring in our relation to the world. the entire world becomes subject at the same time as it integrates objects. we will never again decide about the latter without the former being affected. became set up. and into the social or human sciences. at the same time that the world. by Anaximander. from being the set of objects. invisibly. which steer toward physics. objects had unjustly crushed the subjects. We become the objects of the sciences at the same time as we improve our subject status. once again. The exclusions fell. the apeiron. in equality. in which an other or the same apeiron is remarked and hidden. well. During the reign of the ancient Necessity. discon- tented. started by the sciences and canonized by philosophy. an iniquity the latter avenged themselves for by unjustly mastering the world during the modern era which is drawing to a close. all the beings of the world. A same Moebius strip. FIRST IN HISTORY: ANAXIMANDER   31 . a band on which the apeiron can. therefore escaped Anaximander’s law for several millennia. be seen: the distinction itself has lost its relevance. Physics grows toward politics and the law [droit]. taking on again its natural status. depends or ensues from them. denying. The law became natural again. in which the objects suffered from their separation from men-subjects whose narcissism made them believe they were from a different species. a justice required. justice and redress for their reciprocal injustice. But what do the parasitic subjects give back to the objects? The classical distinction. became subject. The physical sciences and the associated technologies therefore now converge into a law [droit]. and the summons of Time. which set about studying the very ones who were studying: from being subjects. foreign. formerly unjust. as well as today’s so similar law. new. we became little by little objects. finally give themselves up to them. In again becoming. and wicked. links knowledge. The immense parenthesis of three millennia is closing. a Moebius strip along which we can no longer decide where nor who the subjects or the objects are. Convergent laws [lois] endlessly link nature and society. by themselves. like policemen and robbers. We will never again be able to intervene in what one can begin to call the universe without doing so in the human species. divine. mutually. Here the subjects. Law [droit] dominates and rules all the sciences at the same time as it’s founded on them. subjects or objects. lastly the first ones give the second ones their forces and powers. from the dawn of our history. once again. exceptional.

through the eternal return of mutual prosecution. Tuesday [Mardi]. the infinite. An equity hence occurs. founded on the subject-object distinction. it finds itself at ease with the Anaximandrian statement. as well as violence and the law. the apeiron. on the first day. On the contrary. seven times—for this is the Sunday of the resur- rection on which Anaximander’s statement returns—as though during the course of an origin week. therefore desired and called for by the universal ordeal of misfortune. during the day of the Sabbath. This is how to translate. the borderless indefinite. local or functional—that the false gods make in their temples on Thursday [Jeudi] or Jupiter’s day. the peace of contracts. Therefore a mixture without border or exclusion is already at stake: as well as the space of phases. the very first of the philosophical ideas appearing at the origin of our era. during which work stops. the free space of circulations. of currency cast in alloy. With or without exclusion? Deduced from what philosophers will later call the problem of evil. This new knowledge breaks with recent philosophy. submit to the same laws. These laws all ensue from the Natural Contract. for the commodity price lists [mercuriales]. in the fact that can once again be said to be natural. the first word of our philosophical languages says. of the abstract. let’s say de jure. the nonetheless one apeiron. during which just equilibrium or the origin itself appears in the most humble pagus through the theory of duration. in the marketplace. of the pure and infinite expanse of geometry. as well as the time of death and of the end of times. let’s say then Wednesday [Mercredi]. comes to erase all boundaries in the visible hope of appeasing the injustice ruling everywhere—in space. 32   GEOMETRY . through the dense network of separations and always. of the open sets of topology. beyond the divisions— elementary. for the elements of the earth. Just as our final word announces the end of the parasitical relation of subjects to objects. which issued from the medieval Scholasticism of Descartes. without reciprocal exclusion. This is the origin of the global or that of the sum. in Greek. as well as commerce and exchange. in time. as well as the one divine. as well as the practical fusion subject-object or society-nature. on Holy Friday. on the day of the field of Mars and the tribunal. that men and things.

The universal set of space-times of immersion. precise and rigorous. by artistic language to the French classical age. by taste to Quebec. for from borders that are hardware. through law and every contract in the world. no armistice. like a bouquet among the alpine pastures. demoniacal? Just as the indefinite undecidably conceals these two opposed values. from belonging itself. that is to say therefore from the apeiron. implies them in the same way: for without definition there would be no violent exclusion and no excluded third or middle. So FIRST IN HISTORY: ANAXIMANDER   33 . that for their part. And how do we define an end [fin]. eradicated as well by a genocide. do you really want the still open number of teams whose jerseys I wear and will defend? Yes. no peaceful life. cultural. from the indistinction or indefinite of sacrificial crises. wars are declared. divine? Yet. like any other. by pathos to Africa. mental or software. political. by ancestral religion to the Cathars. temporal. is fringed with an intersection of belongingnesses. whose cloak. peace cannot in its turn occur except according to distinctions. the spaces of science will emerge in the course of time. Does peace descend from the apeiron. by learned theology to Catholic Christianity. by professional activity to the universities of the old and the new world. by archaic culture and in my rediscovered carnal night to the Ibero-Celtics wandering in the forest of trees and raised stones. but there would also be no contract. Thus our belongingnesses mix: by birth and language I belong to Gascony in France. so without border there would be no reason and no war. from which. that is to say. social … and from them alone. financial. a definition of definition. material or spatial. because from enclosures and from them alone verdicts of expulsion are reached. by training to the Greco-Latin languages. linguistic. by ideal to the third world. religious. I am a Harlequin. a definition of bounds and borders. by fascination to Asia. enclosed by such bounds. ethnic. Do evil and misfortune then come conversely from bounds. since definition itself seeks and presupposes it? The solution consists in breaking the bound while preserving it. whose lethal passion casts out the excluded? Yes. Is violence born from chaos or mêlée. for bodily entertainment to alpinism or rugby. like every reason in the world. violence and peace. like a horn of plenty. cannot do without the law of the excluded third or middle. technological.

follows a fractal curve linking points that are almost completely different from those through which other armorial bearings pass or will pass. in real time. in justice and in truth. Thus love is learned and requires lots of time in order to travel without end. for their mutual injustice. which. in order to replace the pharaoh—an implacable tyrant—a few small Egyptian leaders. reciprocally. the labyrinth as the form of their relations: they lost the bound that was separating them: their powers became mixed. Herodotus again with reason recounts that. always with a fractal outline. her thread allows the hero to cross the percolation threshold so as to go where no one ever went. the bull. assures the climb to universality.the drawing of a singular blazon. exquisite … Your soul is thus a select landscape. the final bound would draw a Moebius strip along which no one would ever know. Thus the growth toward the universal accentuates singularity. living in peace with each other. the fluid languages and nomad cultures. maintain fixed or mobile borders between themselves. hid itself behind the Labyrinth whose obstacles the abominable Ariadne cleared before Theseus the killer. terrified. whether traveling or sedentary. Violence loses its way through the forest of this mosaic whose labyrinth describes every self. the flesh. including competence and capacities. hybrid. Can one dream that between men and groups. the latter. so variegated that bounds exist. exchangeable reason and volatile currency. or do they sign a peace contract in order to 34   GEOMETRY . at the bound. so as to thus render redress to each other. A victim of sacrifices for generations. but so numerous that the eye gets lost and the desire for violence loses its way. multiple. tattoos. the genome … are therefore mixed with so many belongingnesses that their intersection draws and depicts a concrete land. the stable lands and nations marked on the bloody armorial map. the skin. become lost in another. clothing. one fine day invented. Like alpine meadows during springtime. of the continuous and the discontinuous. honestly taken up. Indefinite mixture cannot be thought except by preserving and dissolving the bounds. itself boundless. whether he thinks and lives on this side of the Pyrenees or on the other? What in fact do the beings of the world do when they render redress to each other for their reciprocal injustice? Do they open again a state of war in order to avenge themselves. or better still.

but restitution and handing over. certainly. that is to say.14 A bifurcation is born. Doing what he says while saying it. the one and the other. precise. in his own living present. Each of Anaximander’s Ancient Greek words cited signifies at the same time two opposites without bound. of exchange.reimburse the damages of violence? The one or the other. the apeiron. cut out. Anaximander simultaneously talks about crime and tribunal. war or peace. of technologies. from the peaceful to the unleashed. in saying or doing this. which we can only understand today as distributed across each day of the origin week. poetic. but rather that he himself decides. starting from the undecidable apeiron. In the beginning is the beginning of law or that of vengeance. opposed. And. in-finite. A round-point without peras. ideas as local and contradictory as little gods in their elementary departments: it therefore ceaselessly opens its time. this doesn’t mean that he’s situated at the origin like a little flag stuck on a fixed. of philosophy … The original speech has this in common with the origin principle: infinite or non-definite. defined. of law. before the order summoned by time. every present can be said as apeiron. productive. its logos makes the generation and destruction of ideas possible. at leisure. of theology. at the element. from the state of discord to a state of law. decided or drawn chronic line. the one after the other or both at the same time. or of course conversely. So here it is at the origin or at the principle. the mixed indistinct. injustice or justice … in other words. offense and respect. designates precisely the violent opening in which the law appears. When does it take place or time? FIRST IN HISTORY: ANAXIMANDER   35 . violence and contract. from which later the classified will emerge thanks to the excluded middle or third. indefinitely. This depends on time and meaning. Now Same boundless ball. he starts a new time. The imbecilic commentator with reason calls the archaic vocabulary. non-law or law. which diverges in the closest proximity to this rotunda. whose words will soon give birth to significations that are local. in equilibrium. a round- about-point or crossroads that is everywhere and always transportable. exclusion or border: vengeance. at the root. ideas or concepts of the sciences. the present of the beings opens the borderless passage from the era of war to that of peace.

but also here and now. a strange. geometry … The Edenic origin. therefore emerges from our living present. you enter Paradise”… … the space of geometry? 36   GEOMETRY . if we want or desire it and therefore the origin of all things. in presence of the existences of all the things of the world. nondescript. a dismal and solemn round point. I tell you. in which the great week of origin is involuted as a sparkling diamond point: “in truth. rare and precious treasure—the beginning of peace or the abominable return of slaughter. During Anaximander’s era certainly. Anaximandrian. ceaselessly between our hands. dull and banal. In this very minute—everyday. in the immediate present of our lives. in everyone’s presence. at that very instant when the former life dies. common. a ball rolling for everyone commonly—is therefore hidden—ordinary. including the law and the economy.

the Akhmin or Rhind Papyri give us to read arithmetical headings of formulas without any ideality of space. Such a quick appraisal resembles the one we could form of Egyptian pre-geometry before Thales: priests or scholars. it lacked a spatial system of representation. charged by it to keep a record of the economy and to prepare political decisions through astro- nomical and calendrical computuses. this caste or class was constituted by the harpedonaptai. A reason must be given for these new things. Contrary to its opening.2  FIRST IN THE RITE: THE ROYAL VICTIM Spaces of exclusion: Political origins Above. space in general or the indefinite apeiron was constituted. founded on it. excluded by unjust men and welcomed in the just sky of Paradise. therefore with a center: here now is its beginning. the caste of the Babylonian scribes produced and preserved a mythical-style astronomy: were they observing the planet Venus or adoring the goddess Ishtar or Astarte? Who could decide? Written up in lists on tables in the form of a base 6 arithmetic. is supplied with borders (finis signifies bound). From nature to culture A privileged class in the service of royal power. . We had ended by hearing the divine statement on the subject of the victim. Starting or not from these legacies. This voice is going to be amplified. defined space. Greece promoted pure mathematical forms.

would some given egalitarian group found or imitate the world in its turning? Naturalizing social phenomena makes one believe in their inevita- bility. In Myth and Thought among the Greeks. already accomplished. Jean-Pierre Vernant seeks and finds the relations between these first rigorous models of the world and some given revolution disrupting the political organization and social history: he who spoke to the group stood in the center. from Babylonia to the Theogony—and the science. then took the floor and spoke. of Anaximander of Miletus. like an Earth or a Sun. confluent into itself. religion. the new schemas demonstrate an intelligible and rational knowledge deter- mined by the new liberty. says the author cited. a lie whose intention and gesture is matched by the socialization of natural phenomena. in the case in point by the poems of Homer and Hesiod—for the tyranny never stops. An inverted bowl. thus realizing the famous isonomy or democratic equality of rights. The myths themselves no doubt recount these two movements. Greece invented the circle at the same time for its parlia- mentary uses and in cosmological systems. on the other. On one side myth. Does this divide exist? Return to the map of the earth The models preceding the Ionian physicists in effect present the Earth as a semi-flat disk surrounded by the river Ocean without origin or end. must it be concluded from this that the real world reproduces the representations of the collective? Do the things themselves truly come down to political practices? From which an event would come that was even more marvelous than the miracle of abstract science that occurred in Greece: because it united itself in a circle. each in turn listened. or ideology saturate the texts. the bronze sky is supported by its 38   GEOMETRY .The Agora and the cosmos For example. between the Babylonian accounts and the first Ionian theorems than between the models proposed by archaic Greece itself. If this newly conquered liberty conditioned the emergence of celestial geometry. and his listeners surrounded him. Where to put the beginning? A historical divide intervenes less.

accounts for diurnal motion and the inclination of the ecliptic: we will observe the latter by means of the gnomon on the sundial in the second part of this book. where the gods live at the top. with a futile effort like a sword stroke in the water. in the middle of the cosmos. FIRST IN THE RITE: THE ROYAL VICTIM   39 . Bowls. manifestly organizes a universe. and to be done with religious conceptions. But the newness doesn’t owe anything to the characteristics noted above. a truncated column. at least negatively taken. therefore the idea of the sphere. technological objects certainly. doesn’t fall. that is to say. embody solids with circular sections. bowls. ordinarily collect and preserve. This then is a radical divide. jars and columns. right and left are confused. this rational model of astronomy. or jars. with the bowl. the laws of the circle. Fixed and stable. a new space. The universe is filled with these differences. or of undecidable differences. No divide New and grandiose. the mortals in the middle and the infernal and subterranean divinities at the bottom. the bodies of the dead: that’s a list of very common technologies compiled by the ethnologies. the fruits of the earth and. In Homer and Hesiod. the disk or the jar. where high and low.circumference. of reason. Inside this solid the wind eddies in disorder in a space that’s neither oriented nor orientable. On the other hand. but geometric. Along comes Anaximander’s system. including symmetry and reversibility of spatial relations. the relationships of the center to the circumference. Anaximander’s contains just as many: a cylinder or disk. in such a way that. lower still. because in effect there is no cause that can pull it or make it shake in some precise or particular direction. the Earth is poised in turn on an immense jar ending in a narrow neck through which the roots of the world go. the archaic model presents techno- logical characteristics. vases. made from bronze or clay. already. symmetrical with respect to their axes. the earth’s nearly flat disk could also be defined as a truncated column. The earth. this is now what religion shows: a universe with levels. his truncated column has a non-negligible thickness. This principle of indifference. If. We can decide it through proof. the complete disappearance of a hierarchy with levels. Jean-Pierre Vernant cuts into the continuous. in the cellar. volumes of revolution. and even of sufficient reason. non-mythic. in addition and for the first time.

the reversible character of relationships in space. if you like. by the potter’s turning. Far from exclusively characterizing the Milesian model. 40   GEOMETRY . symmetry. circularity … are common to both systems. produced. The model said to be archaic draws a construction whose profile remains constant or invariable when the person looking at it turns in a circle around it: these are volumes of revolution. The above diagram shows it.

a common projection. Let’s now consider Anaximander’s scientific model. the entire model onto it. But. in general Concerning point of view. planes for which the projection is formed of concentric circles. The supposed divide thus reduces to a change of site: the characteristics retained in order to separate a “scientific” system from another “archaic” one on the contrary unite them: a complex system of circles in both cases. myth would be unaware of this space and recount different ones. symmetrical. but a quite singular and impoverished geometry. but for the projection. operators of symmetry and reversibility almost as numerous but distributed differently. the projection of Anaximander’s system only holds for a single one of these planes. Anaximander’s universe inclines the axis of the cylinder over the axis of the sphere. the criteria for differentiation proposed by the author whose hypotheses I’m examining do not define the geometry. point by point. Let’s calculate these differences: the diagram of the system said to be archaic shows a simple infinity of planes orthogonal to the axis of revolution. Let’s project. standing straight. This projection will be formed uniquely of concentric circles whose centers mark the trace of the axis of revolution. The blame’s on science. Let’s make a plane orthogonal to the truncated column’s axis go through the center of the world. and orientable space. Plan view. from a simple infinity to unity. Said divide then depends solely on the point of view of the person considering these models. The diagram shows an equivalence that can be differentiated. Space. reversible. The hierarchy with levels remains. Looking without moving he notices the differences. because the cylinder makes it a not totally spherical system. so that it FIRST IN THE RITE: THE ROYAL VICTIM   41 . Philosophers and historians would like science to only present a homogeneous. and the axis of the first torus over that of the second. moving and changing site they vanish and identity appears. in number. its vertical projection only shows concentric circles. So there exists a plane for which the two systems are projected in the same way. whose center marks the trace on the horizontal plane of the axis of revolution. Thus the same model of the world appears. the blame’s on myth.

all the old ways of treating circu- larity: first the simply circular flat disk but also the trunk of the cylinder since it isn’t infinitely thin. Did Moebius add something to this? Did Riemann. the lettered expert cries myth or religion. says Xenophanes. and luxuriously. without measure or orientation. it shows rather more symmetry and homogeneity. and the philosopher cries phenomenology! But they speak to the worker of space about a fundamental phenomenon. in addition. and to a more complex degree. the symmetrical. differently profound than the homogeneous. in the condition or question of knowing what this usual space rests on. no border. the column. no top. what its roots and supports are. there is a topological space added to the first one. left and right are confused. we notice a nice non-metric definition: far from remaining at an equal distance from a center. curiously. Can we conceive the jar with roots as a Klein bottle or a sphere equipped with cross-caps? Yes. that is to say. Yes. Klein or Moebius then write about religion? And what if what’s 42   GEOMETRY . no right or left. ball or paving stone?1 Or by the common vocabulary of a tradition born in Miletus. where precisely top and bottom. then the river Ocean’s concentric ring. Are we nearing the apeiron? There is no bound. non-static but rational. the circle is better or more profoundly defined than by measurement. It combines in fact. tear and enclosure. or the metricized. But the ancient universe possesses the same symmetry along the principal axis. the chaotic space buried in the jar only seems irrational to those who believe in the exclusivity of Euclidean space. the translation of a circle on to an axis. at the roots of the metric.only really possesses the symmetry that the projection of just now brings to light. a set of circles. and as many times as you like. gaping. on the other hand. Why. the orientable. passing through Euclid and dead before Hilbert? Do we only talk about myth or ethnology through ignorance of geometry? What lastly should we say about the brilliant idea of a conditional space—well-placed at the base of the things or the world—we might call pre-metric and surely pre-Euclidean. In passing. no bottom. next a bowl or a demisphere. the profile of the jar. says Hesiod. conceived as the roots of ordinary space? We now know these topologies anterior to the Euclidean metric. Have Plato and Euclid forgotten it? Hearing the terms opening. the Ocean flows into itself with an invariant movement having an identically conserved curvature. beneath the stability of ordinary space. a family of circles in translation on a common axis and all tangent to a curve. do we let ourselves be misled by the lexicon of technology since today we still say barreled space. buried beneath the principle of reason. finally.

a place situated in the center of private habitats. from the accountants and the priests of a king. the affairs of the city-state pass to the publicity of the public. and he who wants to speak goes from the edge to the center: freedom of movement and expression. its center So the cosmos with levels or the hierarchical system remains. equivalence through symmetry or the universal of indifference reigns. amounted to an impover- ishment no longer putting anything before our eyes but the Euclidean skeleton? Bare hypotheses no doubt. wander on the ring’s flatness. all the way to the demon- strable. his sun. Torn from the secrecy of the owners and privileged classes. should be called myth. the mortals. at the level of the bowl. The divide remains. no apartment in which to lodge all this personnel. The Greek city-state emerges between Hesiod and Anaximander. it must be explained. All things being equal. The logos appears as a communitarian discourse of equal fellow citizens. The discussions in the agora burst forth from a circular assembly: we have seen that he who declaims stands in the middle. For Anaximander there is no partition. in which the circle. Political space: After the circle. his shadow and pyramid. seems to characterize the model FIRST IN THE RITE: THE ROYAL VICTIM   43 . At the end of his discourse the speaker in the center moves to the edge. they say. The centered space The Odyssey describes the military aristocracy thus during the archaic period. a rationalization of political life. He expels the gods from a place without floor or ceiling. quite precisely. through Thales and Anaximander. around the circum- ference are the receivers in positions of equality. the cosmos loses its fascinating quality of being a phenomenological habitat or haunted house frightening children. from which it immediately arose as reason. presupposes a desacralization. but the authentically scientific status of what is only dressed in a different mode remains true. but Thales’ theorem is hidden and shows itself there as well. Without cellar or attic.prejudged to be mythical abounded more in science than what we call by this latter name? And what if the famous geometry that appeared in Miletus. in the hole subterranean demons wander in the pot. The gods have the bowl. It would date from an extraordinary disruption of social practices. Wherever you might be. the story of Thales. Putting business affairs in common in the public agora. Certainly Diogenes and Plutarch only give it as a tale. even at the antipodes.

by center and circumference. the relations of the second unfold in identity. so the hierarchical society and the isonomic city-state reduce to two very close representations of the same political phenomenon. on the other. crushing the subjected people. Like the first one. One can even write the simple law of transformation from the first to the second: it suffices for the one considering it to move by a quarter turn. shows the king at the summit. equal among themselves. But that is of no matter. just as the law that transforms the one into the other could be said. but for the point of view. Just as the ancient cosmos and the Milesian one were projected onto the same network of concentric circles. Egalitarian. Hence the divide reappears: on the one hand. Even in Vernant the divide doesn’t exist.of the world anterior to the social and political disruption. the circular schema and Anaximander’s spherical cosmology. and reversibility. the vertical sociological schema and the cosmology with levels. Here are two schemas for the practices of the city-state: the first. sociopolitical now. symmetry. the second diagram lets us see self-evidently that the same schema is at stake. The military aristocracy therefore practiced putting in common: the warriors of Ithaca formed a dominant class like the citizens of said democracy. Let’s reduce it again demonstratively. hierar- chical. centralized. dominating the dominant class. since the (social) model of the model (of the world) is discovered before the date this divide forms. but superior to all the rest of the King Privileged class People Ground Line Center Aristocracy Slaves 44   GEOMETRY .

Living at the center or above. oriented however you like. energy. We who have lived in the posterity of the spherical world know that our predecessors had a lot of trouble moving the center from the Earth to the sun. Would they have spoken of revolution regarding Copernicus’s gesture if it weren’t a question of hierarchy? Holding to the center and the concentrations all around it permits remaining with the king and priests in charge. Herodotus doesn’t hesitate to call power center and center power. The point of view. Distance and belonging Around the rim of the circumference. Height is translated into distance. you precisely turn your back to those who. even if the positions temporarily change from an outside point to the pole and conversely. being excluded outside or being subjected below. from the slaves. For science as for society. the people are no different. always founded on the same exclusion. Whether the pole becomes an axis or a point of this axis or its trace doesn’t change anything. While in truth the universe anarchically scatters. there. Social exclusion Are we unaware then that concentrations of capital. power. here. on the plane of the second projection. displaced from the summit to the center is no longer god or king or father? Eppure. knowledge and education produce as many forms of exclusion? Opposed to democracy. centralization by itself recreates aristocracy. the circumference centralizes in order to order to raise or. the same political world. shows and conceals it. around or outside the closed circum- ference of the privileged. of the vertical axis along which power is assessed in the first one. distance remains the FIRST IN THE RITE: THE ROYAL VICTIM   45 . A cosmos with levels and rings. these are one and the same thing. excludes. The diagram shows the central point as the trace. all points are equivalent through the distance to the center. instead of putting down. remain outside. which the confluence of the river Ocean says very well. If you put yourself in a circle in order to better admire its center. hierarchy endures: do you claim that such- and-such. he is. and whether vertical or horizontal. The Stalinists called this hypocritical thing democratic centralism. Under the scribes or the harpedonaptai. this quarter turn of lie and hypocrisy. decision. A hierarchical form neither stronger nor weaker than the vertical the free men of Athens. excluded.

the face to face elements are related to the axis or the center: this relation alone produces the equivalence.essential thing. what does it matter? This element orders. whether theoretical or social. Rational explanation is given for all these places. that’s all. In symmetry. the cosmos-order or the society-order boils down to the orders one gives or receives.2 Hence the irresistible call for our cultural reason. marvelously expressive comparatives. speech. So. equality refers to a chosen referential and is defined in relation to it. line or plane. 46   GEOMETRY . commands and pronounces the law. a belonging and its ostracizing. a set of inside-equal-superiors and the complement of those who. Reference Whether group or cosmos. referring is equivalent to reasoning. point. this transport. points or phenomena by referring them to one element. to the point of an axis. outside. privileged thereby: pole. Power and reason are transferred there. the world preserves its levels. returns to hierarchy: reason bears the sacred or the arche. tra-duction to a place and reduction to it. We were misled by a stereotyped appearance. come from the animal depths of evolutionary times: only a hierar- chical system seems rational. a hierarchical system remains a reference model. since all things are only equivalent there through reference to a pole. induction to a place or deduction from it. therefore through the homogeneous distri- bution of distances to the one or the other. transfer or reference. In all generality. the acme being found at the center. privileged thereby. And the system. If reason equals relation. this relation is the logos. an inside and an outside. the best assemble according to the best form around the focus: an optimal curve of listening and vision for those ranged along its orbit and who turn their backs to those who are not and which defines a point of diffusion. Hence the lived gesture: the one who is speaking transports himself to the center. Sometimes defined by optimum or maximum. A legislation of equality. no doubt born during those times on the shores of a divine sea. to think that only a reference system is rational. As long as the logos. the circumference in addition draws an excellent schema of aristocracy. the isonomy thought by the circle is betrayed by this very thing. wandering in the vague space. summit. Power residing in the center. is equivalent to relation. Never absolute. Hence the call. remain excluded. the way he formerly mounted the summit or the altar. transferring power and legislation from some set to one of its elements.

brings it to and imposes it on our reason. an object that’s abstract like a cylinder or a point. contempt. sayable. rational. in geometric representation. and command appears when they claim to begin. it becomes transparent inside reason. invariant like a column without foundations. that no one thwarts this intelligent Greek ruse. conversely and in general. they become identical to each other. We haven’t left that originary soil in which the knowledges and community terrors are rooted. As soon as hierarchy is translated as reference one can finally prove as reason and show as theoretical vision to every reasonable animal that it is reasonable to transfer the autonomy that they owe to the hazards of their existence to the element of reference. and yet rational? Yes. The model of the world by the same Anaximander nevertheless doesn’t separate reason from the old mastery or from the archaic hierarchies. command There is no arche except in the archaic. ineradicable from his place like the earth or the sun. How could it have if even our science doesn’t seem to have done so yet? The relation of domination. deprived of privileged place or referential. Things begin when the arche precisely goes absent. So. power or king are no longer spoken of. better yet we theorize him. blinded. Science. the relation of forces here is transformed into the notion of relation. like a variety of homogeneous space to its pole or any site in a system to its legislative center. preserves it. he becomes an object. arriving on the scene. The trap has been closed for three millennia.” Can. nonexistent like the latter: reason. power lies in knowledge. the way the invisible lies in what allows seeing. an admirable trick. reference and relation. The beginning expressed by the term “archaism” is found again in the command of the word “hierarchy. but since height. transparent like the former. so invisible that no one has seen it. global transport to the geometric ideality. an anarchical system be conceived. we naturalize the one who holds power. unavoidable because without roots and endlessly stable. height. without reference or border. Hierarchy remains inside reason. this is no longer an object. in sight. no. like the world to its earth or to its sun. The hierarchy remains transparent in translucent reason.Beginning. in discourse. FIRST IN THE RITE: THE ROYAL VICTIM   47 . which doesn’t exist. Neither man nor group. theoretical. but rather a geometric ideality. in measurable relation. rigor and weight is reduced here to the relation of distance. assuredly: it suffices to trace back to the multiple varia- tions of beginning in Anaximander’s indefinite.

Supreme cleverness: seen precisely from on high. In practice. So the tables are sufficient. Theory and appearance Thus the Babylonians. it is said. theory: in other words. a grid in order to see. in the shadow of the Pyramids. Deceptive. face-on. who sees. had at their disposal tables. Reason. and exclude the slaves that work for them. models are always false. theorize.The theoretical scene of vision The essential thing for the whole affair. In Babylon. the schema gives the one who draws it a position above the king. these standing objects. rubrics of numbers and results ordered any old way. or everyone each other by permutation. Let’s sit in a circle around the stage. as shown by the diagrams. you can go directly and without any model from observations to the point in the sea or the date of eclipses. then a planar graph. knew how to foresee. Representation. the stage of vision. remains the law of projective transformation. Hence the conditional questions: what to see. They invented representing. and you forget your slavery and your real burdens. you think the universe outside of it. this is the very miracle: admiring. The Greeks invented. the tables are sufficient. that quarter turn that makes us believe in democracy. First. that of the mind. and you will see the things from outside the world. In Plutarch or in Diogenes. So trace this model by Anaximander in the sand. not the system: they didn’t have any theory at their disposal. a system with levels. with the pyramid. geometry makes everything be seen from this blind point we are meditating on. Standing and observing. the reduced model. the spectacle-world or theater. even though the privileged warmly surround the king. the magi saw the celestial bodies. analyze. that is to say. and here perhaps is the divide. another inaugural lesson will stage Thales in the theater of seeing. And on which perhaps our violence accumulates. You intellectually enjoy even more than a superior point of view: the practice of this drawing is a proof of the existence of another world. Moreover. but couldn’t see. The diagram on its own puts you inside and betrays your site. from a focal point. one of their own. no one sees the world or society the way they would be seen in flying over and from on high. from what site? 48   GEOMETRY .

except to betray the idea of science created by the very person who filters it. like poor farmers’ pots. Science’s share in myth is nearly the same as myth’s share in science. taking their word for it. They even allowed themselves the luxury of telling us cyclic history. or history itself. Hesiod. The circle that matters defines the double diagram or traces the succession of points of view around the stable thing. and lastly suddenly take the same ones out again so that. the shrewdness of the Greeks impelled them to invent a ruse of reason. How many times has this phenomena been reproduced in history? Exactly as many times as this filtering has taken place. we align them along a linear evolution. from our place. let us see them. The entire theater turns by a quarter turn. then they put these objects back into the horn. the cleverness. They give us systems and schemas to see that are so distinguished from each other that. On the one hand and for each diagram. and the divide doesn’t take place since the variation of the site suffices to recreate the invariant. Homer. we see a column and a sphere. And the optimization of a projecting site: the fly-over from on high or from outside the world. whether interrupted or continuous. and Anaximander aren’t opposed as poets and scientist. The characteristics retained here to filter one scientific system from another system that wouldn’t be have scarcely any effectiveness except to unite them. They turned the object. Centered space: Religious and geometric Brothers and twins to the point you can’t tell them apart. In fact. the illusionists! Better. has separated with his saber or balanced with his beam the two spaces in question. The Greeks’ production is projection. Aristophanes or some other stage director must be bursting with laughter in their graves from seeing us try to understand! They take a bowl and a jar out from of their horn of plenty.Comic deception Legendary. produces the projection. FIRST IN THE RITE: THE ROYAL VICTIM   49 . This cycle. in the place of the god he threw out. the models are identical but for the point of view: therefore there are only representations. or as someone situated at the same time outside science and myth. who can ever leave some intersection of these two sets? The fact remains that the equivalence is verified beyond all expectation. the ruse-mathematics. they made us turn around them and it.

The same thing goes for time: continuous history. for there are as many scientific spaces as you please. for uniting a triple-level profile and symmetrical vertical axis with a plane having concentric circles. The copula must therefore be proven twice for this space. every interrupted time would recount a sacred history. sacred. geometric and religious: by a geometrical verification. dominate the descriptions of space and time in Mircea Eliade for example.3 To liberate space from gods. The same variation of the site suffices in the two cases. Profane. inside and outside. a cathedral spire. squeezed or mobilized around the universal axis. but sacred time presents ruptures. to recreate the invariant. pyramid or vertical ziggurat. from myth to science. Templum The distinction of the homogeneous and the heterogeneous. which goes. Half. an epistemo- logical or temporal divide is instituted. chaotic or regular. This must be completed in the other direction. correspond to the sets. a division whose gesture remains a hierophany. But lastly the two diagrams are the same. orientable or not. group and cosmos. centered or metric. as follows. cut off from sacralization. only some of which are homogeneous. to be brief. defined sometimes by profile: mountain. would be the only possible scientific one. But this isn’t tenable. therefore directed from the bottom to the top and rooted in a subterranean infra-world … … or sometimes as a planar variety. it isn’t. In addition. they become reinstalled in time. As a result geometry. In order to topple the spatial hierarchy and attain political equality. Hence the half verification by mathematics itself. he says. posits an undifferentiated space. of the continuous and the discontinuous. a Jacob’s ladder. that is to say. as above. closed and defined by connected borders: the temple that excludes the profane boundless that’s centered 50   GEOMETRY . a pillar of the sky. in the non-reversible direction from science to representations. profane. The same luminous confusion traverses Eliade’s discourse regarding sacred spaces. The same operations. To say the converse amounts to underesti- mating geometry. The irony of things and their reversal is to be savored. open like a chimney in the direction of the sky. Thus formal thought knows the spaces said to be mythic or cultural. space is isotropic. by the history of religion. to forcing it into impoverished reductions. analogous. profane time flows continuously.

Here again is the same space. Plan view. Low-high or pole-edges. along the pyramid. altar. altar. holy. ark: initiation toward the omphalos or the center of the world. Geometric thought penetrates myth. A faithful description of sacred spaces exactly implies the two very diagrams to which we have been compelled by the nascent Greekness. to the same referent. holy of holies. Either with levels. in Anaximander’s style. Benares. This planar penetration simply projects the climb up the holy mountain. holy of holies. the political or social representations of the collective and the religious spaces of our temples: a vision of the world that must be taken literally as vision and FIRST IN THE RITE: THE ROYAL VICTIM   51 . and both of them are geometric. a temple therefore drawn by bounds and middle. So the history of religion confirms the propo- sition in the other direction. hierarchical due to the pillar of the world. The centered space. Jerusalem. better. or homeomorphic with a circle whose umbilical point traces the axis on a plane.around the fixed point. hearth. The same diagram then holds for the models of the cosmos. the umbilicus or pole of the world. up Jacob’s ladder. the discourse of myth invades geometry. Axis mundi Holy mountain Ziggurat pyramid Omphalos Remaining silent about the gods isn’t enough to chase them out. or measured along the axis of the world. sacred space increases in holiness as one penetrates it. reciprocally. Mecca. the place of places. Rome. both boil down to a reference. can be said to be as religious as the universe with levels that precedes it in time. knot.

the artisan. the merchant. pyramids. Whether it’s a question of a temple or of a private house. town-planners. We never cease going back over the genealogy of places: cosmos. agora. or architects had already formed in the monumental. but always invariant. temples. on the one world? If this is true it would surprise us greatly if traces of said vision didn’t exist in the spatial universe of geometry. which says the temple. utopia. entirely spatial. the same universe that priests. an architectural painting. the higher opening by which the fire reaches the sky. elevation restores the axis. palaces. the local focus around which the lines are organized. Does this didactic literature in turn reproduce the very space of cities? The jar says the house. following special constraints. the forms fit together. These lines henceforth have the forms we want. So common as to be useless: an architect’s blueprint. temple. houses. The representations become artificial objects: ziggurats. The world’s axis marks with its point the omphalos on the plane. habitat … Was the plane of these forms and spaces hidden first? Was an elevation blinded next? Why don’t you see the plane when the profile is given to you. 52   GEOMETRY . jars. elliptical. which says the world. on the other. symmetrical around an axis of revolution. measured by string and compass. prepared. square. that can be formed from masonry. Laws V 745 and 771 Whether a city or an island. a possible world. the columns around the hearth or focus. the final diagram attaining a kind of universality. round. When the town-planner takes the place of the architect. they teach the peasant. polis. already pedagogic and popularizing. By describing a vertical form. the proof will begin again. history as such or history such as it is written? Hence the new diagram. being found in formality. The plane and the elevation of the city and the house Sometimes these forms are constructed. Can it be thought to be universal? Polis and pagus: Plato. or amphoras are caught in a familiar discourse. also constructs another world: that of monumental construction. From which we can hazard the hypothesis that turned objects such as bowls. and why can’t you make out the profile when you have been made to see the plane? Who is deceived and who deceives. rectan- gular.

projected. we didn’t have mediations toward them. Conversely. calling for patience. thus leads to that white box preceding the pure topos of geometry by little. by the traditional tyrant and isonomic reform. outside time. You might think Platonisms. the stone-cutter. We have just overturned the old order of things. endlessly torn up from its means. So when they fail and when duration is prolonged. in Homer-Hesiod and Anaximander. Exponential innovation causes means to shower down. the architect and city- planner practice utopian trades. The cosmic plan. remains in space. here it gives them back everything it had taken from them. the deferring or obligation to defer. Hippodamos’s and Plato’s plans? Ancient science as the set of tables and the new science as processing the possibles Utopia signifies space. the suspension of desire. like always delayed ideals. the accumulation of intermediary stages. The technologies needed time so much that history. produced our cultures. the indefinite wait and struggle: it imposed realism and condemned utopia. the mason. at the end of history. Everything that precedes. from the architect. the political plan. Geometry perhaps came from the technologies of construction. even in the short term. A city-planner’s plan or blueprint. ideas. Its poor reputation as an unrealizable project will last as long as the ineffectiveness of the technologies. exposed in them the impossibility of catching up. Hence its blockage in space. the religious plan. we possess in overabundance the means to realize it. Now. From which come the philosophies of history that point toward a place. We are overproducing means so much that the ends are FIRST IN THE RITE: THE ROYAL VICTIM   53 . namely in utopia. do they prepare. This constraint dominated. precedes them so much that they never catch up to it. by axis mundi and omphalos. conversely. three times. the project. An ancient culture that dies from the overturning. deferrings and suspensions. Perfect realization. work. diagrams and representations. Utopia masters space through representation. whatever the end may be or almost that we are proposing. miraculous. due to the loss of the means to execute according to time. But it remains an end without means. We had projects. can be understood fairly well through technological innovation. a space. because they project possible spaces. modulo time. The remains of the old culture join forces to blind us to this evident fact and no longer reign except through the old necessity of delays.

through tabulation. In Leibnizian terms. by 2 and by 6. the arm of the beam of justice lengthened or shortened. Built in the center of the country. by 2 and by 5. or from its pre-estab- lished tables. departs from this. Let’s note the convenience of the global number for duodecimal divisions. a small plot. Here then is the product of all the ways of writing twelve. the possible scenarios. Plato visibly sought this since he remarks the absence of the divisor eleven.lacking instead. Balance is better than fraction—Aristotle will say pretty much the same thing in the fifth chapter of the Nicomachean Ethics. in effect: into how many parts? 5040. while the real blocked us. The legislator divides it into twelve. large on the contrary if it’s lacking in fertility. on the contrary. For the first time in history. Divisible by the first seven integers. The dividing is done the same as weighing on a balance. And so Plato. It remains to divide the land. The Earth and the ideal city Let’s return to the ancient utopia and its spatial nature. Or: 5040 = (4 × 3) × (6 × 2) × (7 × 5) = 12 × 12 × (7 × 5). 5040 equals 7 factorial: 7! = 7 × 6 × 5 × 4 × 3 × 2 × 1. Interesting. planning his ideal city. to weighing. We are suffering from the inverse delay to utopia due to the abduction of the new means to those ancient ends for which the means were lacking. Dream boldly. The first rule. metricized by numbers. All spaces are mastered there. The delay of cultural and political powers with regard to the tools put in place places us in danger. the number of tribes and lunar months. So let the land be divided. the possible is in advance of the real: the possible henceforth draws us. Distributing then amounts to proportioning. to form (5040 – 2) = 5038 to find it again. to the divine understanding whose computer multiplies. it’s divisible by certain of their products. Now 7 + 5 = 12. therefore by the first integers. The question of the city assumes that the question of the fields has been resolved: the pagus and the polis were next to each other in those days. we have just passed from the created world. 54   GEOMETRY . it is centered around the fire of Hestia. It is indeed a matter of applied geometry. homogeneous equality would be unjust. he says. The quality of the soil being taken as a coefficient or weight. by portion and proportion: for fertile land. Since production varies with the quality of the soil. the ways of access are already ready. it suffices. by 3 and by 6. divisible by 4 and by 2.

an axis. the other will be sent to the ends of the country. where the axis of the world or umbilicus varies little. had to be placed on the circle’s very circumference. a reference element. As the plot gets closer to it. its value grows. This ring then draws the geometrical site of the fixed points for the division. the fulcrums for the balance. edges. Very tentatively. to bring about distributive justice. engraved on a shield. in series that are reputed to be different (but in accordance with what criterion are they different?) and parallel. this is the equivalent of a Copernican Revolution. myth. just like the circle and the reversibility of time. remains stable: a center. We know the forms. probable. The Greeks are no exception. Or. the second one will get all the closer. This amounts to putting the balance either at the edges of the city. a king. as it gets farther away. if one understands the second one. the political organi- zation …? The question amounts to demanding. Hence the question: where to place the fulcrum of this beam? There already is a center. pagus plus polis. a doubtful one. outside the walls. temples or cities. space loses its homogeneity a second time. command or beginning. they are the exception. If one part lies in the vicinity of the pole. It repeats the map of the oikoumene. the fixed point had to be moved. they must be divided in two. the second one will become all the more distant from the city walls. in which the homology is general. under the transparent guise of reason. first. Which series. social and political space in relation to what they project of cosmic and religious space. Hence the confirmation of our thesis: space—every polar system—is hierarchical. Necessary like so many others. Yet a single culture among them promoted geometry and a mathematical model of the universe. the division of the lands. a god. at the common altar of the temple of Hestia. concentric and external ring. through hesitation about the meaning of the text: if one part is close to the city. had to be multiplied. to my knowledge. The universal and difference Many cultures therefore build habitats. if the first part moves away from the city. or on a circular. and in order to do so. but here. it loses all the more. But precisely through distance in relation to it. The archaic form of the utopia. the explanation isn’t sufficient. The portions then must be balanced. the law. since from the first project of egalitarian reform by distrib- utive justice. originary and determining. This amounts to the same thing. or city adding up the fields. if one understands the first hypothesis. becomes the reference? Religion. a point with an infinity of parallel series. Conversely. their economic. a center. All cultures have produced forms. FIRST IN THE RITE: THE ROYAL VICTIM   55 . a single one has represented formal idealities.

central. the system resides rather in the invariant. we are inside. knowledge. Every rational construction. by essence. king. father. Whether it’s a question of the world or of religion. The rational is prisoner of the referred. formation. rather hierarchy takes on the 56   GEOMETRY . is hierarchical. hearth. abstractions. is precisely reference. whatever the system may be. is reason itself. Here is the inaugural moment when the knot weaves its interlacing. Analogy. theory … the essential lies in relation. The invariant of the profiles It remains to seek what varies among all these profiles: verticality. under as many names. ark. privileged elements. when an invariant exists. like history for the Greeks. whether turning or circular. its utility. words. its function. is the parallelism. Every referred system. as well as every decision to relate each element of a set to one or some privileged elements. One is always surprised that force and reason are tied together. vary in their nature but not in privilege. Take any set of stars. Reason demands that there be no reason. streets. Reason is frozen in hierarchy. discourse. gods. which Western culture has believed ever since. in the stable form. and the law. Anaximander had said it: everything holds by the principle of indif- ference or the principle of reason taken negatively. Hierarchical. but above all relation to. sites. the only law. No. is the logos itself: speech. its mastery. different religious behaviors … Yet the system is stable across the variation of the content. The content of the system varies: cosmos. without really being aware of it. in its first institution. every system. from its nascent state. foundation. certainly. on the other hand. And we see nothing there: reason hasn’t taken on the purple and gold clothes of force. Again. of the house … of language. And the stable invariant. omphalos of the world. in the picture. individuals. This is the Greek lie. rocks. view. is warped by the archy. the horizontal plane … Perspective. city. the homology of everything. habitat. and it can only become a rational system if it’s bound by a reference. The axis and the center. There is no privileged element or arche. at least during this epoch. all the systems thus represented contain an arche: earth. political practices. follows the law of representation. Is reason defined by indifference toward all difference? Must we precisely call universe that which holds by this principle without principality? Hence defined space ceaselessly refers to the indefinite. sun. of politics.

a real freed from representations. the primitive place of the first knowledge. a voice of the conditions for listening. And the logos relates or transports to this station or this habitat. for επίσταμαι [epistamai] the root εφίστημι [ephistemi] can be accepted: setting. the diaphaneity of reason. stopping. they evoke. Pascal will say. So the Greek word for science says station or static. requires a stable place where the subject stops. running and flying like the god Hermes? Does a reason without reference exist. Aristotle: reason thinks and knows through repose and stopping. being held in suspense. the thinking peace comes from the base and foundation. generalized. in repose. knowledge or science. a first chain link fixed to a nail. an enormous rumbling from outside. thinking. above. an infrastructure … to assure an axis and hold itself near it. when the new theories of knowledge were changing anchorage points? It needed to have a point. We will rediscover. we give power to a center. Must philosophy speak in a vague space. the place of reference or repose. what does the verb “to know” signify? In spite of a few difficulties. of the crowd. placing upon. Hestia and the episteme But again. a sun. we have made it our abode. these singular results of statics in the naturalist genesis of place in regards to the first Elements of Euclid. Caught by the inside. knowing. proto-foundations. For the Greek language. a ground. The philosophers sought this priority at every possible opportunity. prudent and knowing. coming near. presupposes this low and sure base. wandering forever on the chaotic sea. as though in echo: “he who stops causes the getting carried away of others to be noticed. sitting on or next to.” The episteme.transparency. halting. FIRST IN THE RITE: THE ROYAL VICTIM   57 . more distantly. Does epistemology then study the fixed point. memories of the general results obtained in Statues. a Copernican Revolution. a voice of the universe. since their decision. through the calming of the soul after natural agitation a subject is engendered. But the enormous benefit of said union resides in the fact that a unitary space was then formed: the Greeks inhabited it and. a finally determining reason. a support. an island swallowed up by the innumerable sea? Is the real “rational”? Pose the question then to Anaximander’s apeiron. as soon as we reason. for the anthropology of the sciences. like a fixed point. even before the time when the quarrel of the sun and the earth was burning. a voice of voices? Has the center disappeared. of matter. the second book of Foundations.

a transcendental ground that founds knowledge? And when he finds this place. through Anaximander’s apeiron. Or: does this centered space find its condition in Anaximander’s apeiron. this proper name signifies the fixed point. But before designating such a mixture of selected pieces. the upright of the loom. comes to Hestia’s hearth. like Penelope. a woman. knowledge. in the king’s place We have up to now described the center without defining or filling it: what is it and who reigns there? The Latin language formerly called a poem whose fragments of verse came from borrowing from diverse authors satire or cento [centon]. outside the hearth. the science that the Greeks discovered or founded. religious. occupies the center of this static constellation of the Greek dictionary: as commonly used. An adult. the common lexicon was sufficient. into the exterior of the circular temple. since cleanliness demands gestures of purification or exclusion. This is the place or space of classical science. and runs in the company of Hermes. I see the epistemologist well enough dressed as a priest of this constel- lation of Hestia. a chaste Vestal who keeps the fire and sweeps the ashes in order to toss them outside. the hearth. The tragic scene: The victim. clear knowledge is interlaced with obscure myth. social. in the center. infallible. which stays maximally fixed in the great commotion of storms. We had no need for all these diagrams. the woman who weaves. Myth and geometry converge and agree with language. Hestia. or political place. the Latin cento 58   GEOMETRY . The episteme. the axis of the world. the loom. Does there exist for him an ideal. does science still have need of assurance and quietude? Autological. in Anaximander’s cosmos. he inhabits it and can no longer deceive or be deceived. the quietude of repose. He who has discovered this place feasts with the gods and talks to them as their equal. the colonnade. will it scorn foundations? Knowledge lives with Hestia. next to the fire. the ultimate reference. like the definite in the indefinite? Black myth and white knowledge? Once again. then the ship’s mast. a supreme judge and inviolable critic. without further error. institutional. located at the fulcrum of every balance. through the door the Romans called stercorary.

both. at the same time as it lets its place be seen. a patched-up cento. like the cloak of Harlequin. to the Greek kentron. the sharp point or singularity. FIRST IN THE RITE: THE ROYAL VICTIM   59 . in the heart of all the folds of his clothes: what he is. then becoming the public’s laughing stock or its whipping boy. As though it accompanied the history of science. lies behind or beneath the transparency of this pure concept of the center. whose clearness hides. The same word designates the tool of punishment and he who undergoes or merits it. the poem with pieces taken from diverse sources and the patched-up cloak. language recounts that the center of the circle or of a closed curve in general. the weapon in the bee’s belly or at the scorpion’s rear. But first. Ketron then shows the center of the circle. far from designating at the outset the calm reference place where people debate in serene democratic equality. condemned to the stirrup leathers or the lethal goad. here is the king or emperor of the Moon. thrust there. royal or poor. appear in geometry. the stimulation under a distinct stilus—the common root of these words. pierced. Language speaks in several voices and recounts without me the global chain of constitution. like its Latin equivalent. an instrument of torture. stigma. is soon going to signify the point in Euclid—the nail or the whip of the one being thrashed. the center. one and several. Thus all by itself the word says the one and the multiple at the same time. Here is the cloak. situated in its middle. feathered vectors. refers. The royal apex of the political form therefore ends up receiving the poor wretch.4 Traversed with semi-straight arrows. which exactly translates cento.designated a patched-up piece of cloth. the central intersection. in the middle of the circle formed by those responsible for the lynching. the victim. union. or rather the place from which the king dictates the equality of the aristocrats and the exclusion of a forgotten population. describes the trace left by the goad. first admired at the center of the theater stage. that pure ideality. the one through the patent spatial meaning. through hidden linguistic roots. a comedic personage in the center of the stage. There lastly is what Harlequin is carrying in the center of his center. and the other. This French word [centon]. the one playing the role of the image of the other. whose obsolescence distresses me. kentron designates the goad with which the plowman formerly spurred on the pair of oxen at the plow. flagellated. the victim. a scrap of composite fabric. the torture site and the place of the ridiculed king. For the central point can be defined as the indivisible intersection of the directions and the surrounding worlds and the many-colored union of all these elements. lastly. but also a whip with nails.

Is this how defined space is distinguished from the indefinite? Campus: Excursus outside the Greek area In a Latin and civil translation of the whole affair. permit intercalating here a martial and political campus amid this human genealogy of centered places. like kingship with sacrifice and the origin with death? Invading the entire rim of the circle.better than a screen. these residues of early archaic formation: do you see. like me. conspires and revolts against it. from the theater to science and episte- mology. In this singularity at the punctual and almost absent limit. exclusion approaches the center and occupies it: now it is in the middle. thrown under these pieces. in your turn. the one that sees all the points from its site and that they see from theirs: hence you see. just like the stomach in the center of the members in the story itself and like the summit of the mountain for the topography. while of course concealing the relations of domination. without ever leaving the laws of exclusion. the victim. for the first time no doubt. Is reference identified with a singularity of this exclusion. the center remains invariant and defines the same position. the same sharp point for similar stigmata? In the center lies the cento. In the center lies the subject. He explained the relations of harmony. all the way to the sacrificial site. history and the supposed origins are annulled so as to always repeat the same one-multiple schema: the set. The speculative bedazzlement before the circle’s center conceals the anthropology of geometry. from the templum to the pagus. located on the circumference. parasite or profiteer … Whatever these variations might be. again. sometimes. the receiver of information and pain. the First Book of Foundations. or merged. often. from the polis to utopia. the word division in its divergent optical expression! 60   GEOMETRY . covered over with and composed of pieces. certain pages (211–218) of Rome. Recall the fable by Aesop that was recounted to the people on strike or in retreat on the Sacred Mount by some patrician located in their middle. then of revolt. a similar scene on the point. the entire world is gathered and comes into contact. the one responsible. Shadow lengthens in the vicinity of this light whose serene concept closes the wound of the tragic. works for the center. excellently. therefore takes it to be a tyrant. In this discourse. settles down so as to return to harmony. stigma. whose interlocking slid from the cosmos to the agora. is juxtaposed. between this central site and the other surrounding points. exchanger.

constitutive of the centered space. without intervention in the sick body or utilization of plants or sometimes animals with an eye to treatments. a circular conception of time that didn’t fail in the estimation of a large year. the Maya. songs and counterpoints. is this model valid at the same time for the body. sing. does the mathematical model remain the best? Whether about sets or arith- metic. solar and Venusian. a human group. put into phase by the calculation of a kind of epact. religious. And what if mathematics was born from this mixed place. in base 20 and using zero. pray. a political arithmetic then give an account of the genesis of our abstract knowledge. both estimable. a good knowledge. and the social body? The first hypothesis is false since Rome never discovered what the Hellenes invented. finally. of the sacrificial king. of reference and the concept. take samples from plants. a pharmacopoeia. of local flora and fauna. what did the civilizations know that were cut off from all exchange. draws the schema of putting to victimary death. a medicine. predict. dates. quite refined musical instruments … … can you truly cite a single culture without explanations or obser- vations of the cycles of the sky. the Aztecs. The second one amounts to the theory of models that are so convenient we change them every day. cadence the epochs. of represen- tation in general. So notice that we have crossed several times from nature to culture or from the practices of the one to those of the other. social and global at the same time. without dance or rhythmic sounds? Which lacks individuals. animals and the floral order. of power. FIRST IN THE RITE: THE ROYAL VICTIM   61 . time-counters. Might a social set theory. a triple calendar. still bound to totemism. sickness. the reason why it applies universally? Outside the Mediterranean In addition to the Latins or the Babylonians. numbers. observe the stars. the sudden explosion of Greek science? This almost invariant core that the anthropologist rediscovers in collectives cut off from all outside influence. members and stomach. death … What do the cultures know that precede. This multiple-one star. the Northwest Passage. and sometimes counsel kings? What does the thought said to be savage know? Rhythms. who treat. for example the Olmecs. are social processes thus explained by an operational method: to understand. the way they could thus be read in this common episode from science’s prehistory? Or conversely. whose name alone changes when one turns around the world. in the middle of an America so uncontaminated that it can serve much better as a crucial experiment than the tribes of central Italy? Refined computus techniques. in our area.

rare. descend purge and expulsion. Pure or metric space and the excluded third From the cosmos. we have two groups of sources: the mathe- matical corpus itself first. city. Renan called the origin of geometry a miracle for the best reasons in the world. computational and rhythmic … Rigorous and formal. but for a few variations? We can doubtless define its content. might our knowledge have gained its momentum starting from a permanent base. from the language reputed to be natural and its alphabetical notation to the rigorous and systematic language of numbers. found again in the tragic scene and its victim. the doxography of the scattered stories. does there exist a true exact pre-science. or camp. Yet. social and natural at the same time. from the templum. To demonstrate this. astronomical. always and everywhere present. in the acts that define the temple. The thing in the world the most equally divided. These two series of texts are written in two different idioms. These two languages themselves. arithmetic. that of the page on which the proof is written. measurements. on the other hand. a de facto or first universal. uncatchable? From the white box that appeared on the shores of the rivers formerly. from the campus and the polis. biological and medical. inaccessible. continuously. we have lastly arrived at the final represen- tation. or Athenaeus. without any relation to each other. Plutarch. toward the universal de jure? As though our origin connected two universes. Does the origin flee ahead. not long ago. such as it’s found in Euclid’s Elements and other treatises or fragments. Here are two parallel lines that meet just as little as geometers and historians do. were reluctant to call physical events with very low probability miracles. posing the question of the Greek beginning of geometry precisely obliges us to ask how they went from one language to another. common or technical. that of Aristotle or other commentators such as Proclus or Simplicius. in Diogenes Laertius. each speak of this history in their own way: stories or legends on the one hand. axioms and rigorous reasonings. For the construction of geometrical idealities or the beginning of proof were highly improbable events: its unique rarity gives proof of this! Neither Jeans nor Borel. 62   GEOMETRY . from the stage and the royal throne. written or noted in equations and figures. equations and formulas on the other.

is hidden the incestuous and sacred cadaver. How reciprocally does the landscape speak to these visitors? Can these two sets of texts be linked. that saw. two interlocutors. Composed in natural language. beneath the tombstone. the stories. Here no language is unknown or undecipherable. to turn together against the same third and exclude him: be quiet. On high are seen the sun of Ra and. concretely built and theoretically represented. the famous problem of doubling the FIRST IN THE RITE: THE ROYAL VICTIM   63 .5 Invariant. that of the group of similarities. these two languages be glued back together? Let’s imagine a Rosetta Stone where several legends are written on one face. don’t make any noise. When the old Egyptian priest in the Timaeus compares the new science of the Greeks. and which reveals itself to be agonal. A curious diagonal of the entirely pure—it was believed—square. concerns their common border. children. we know how to read both of them. conflagrations. in a black box with insurmountable walls. the solar light coming into the ideality of the volume assuring its diaphaneity. find themselves compelled. the fire of the sky. in order for dialogue to remain possible. but at the bottom. it is said. but the question concerns the edge that’s common to the two faces. legends and doxographies speak of the corpus of the geometers and arithmeticians. Is the priest in possession of the secret of this violence? A Rosetta Stone Let’s again draw these parallel lines that don’t meet. and where. Mythical or real in space and time. Let’s read the face with the legends: someone who conceived some new solution sacrificed an ox or a bull. for the dazzling epiphany. in order to compare them. to the knowledge whitened by the time of his own culture. floods. a theorem appears. We will in addition see that in the agora. old. doesn’t say that a hidden royal dead man lies under the mimetic operator. the way naive travelers would talk about a foreign land. set apart. the space of the first geometry. written. on another. in coded figures or in mathematical symbols. the light of day that day. this story says that the unleashing of the elements conceals the origin. he evokes. the operation of expulsion associates all the spaces whose construction precedes that of the last space. as during the time of Champollion. buried mummies hide. of the same form and different dimension. go back underground or leave. catastrophes. Beneath the Pyramids. The pure space of geometry. The Thales of the theorem intervenes around the three tombs. for its part. implacable adversaries. and imitating one another.

dies from this crisis says the legend and its allegorical covering over in the scholium of the Elements. legends once more. forbids measuring. announce an important event. the origins thus said remain legendary. we no longer believe in them or almost. relation or measure. or another. the father. the apagogic proof. concluded about the irrationality of √2. Everything that is irrational and deprived of form must remain hidden. nearest its origin. Yes. Book X. Legends and histories The establishment of a rigorous proof precisely separates the Greeks from their possible predecessors. The scholia. commentaries. this is the philo- sophical sacrifice perpetrated by Plato. on the other. If logos designates proportion. it will then be swept away into the sea of becoming. or alogon. Hippasus of Metapontum. the famous crisis of the irrationals. in the second sense. returning from the battle of Corinth. Elements. Mathematics. that permit us to read them. if it signifies discourse. even though the sect had taken an oath to say nothing about it. Parmenides. Plato shows us Theaetetus dying. that’s what they wanted to say. alogon is opposed to all speech. on the one hand. divulged its secret. narratives or philosophical texts. history gets involved in it: in the dialogue that bears his name. in any case it seems certain that he died in a shipwreck. first scholium: the Pythagorean who for the first time proved said irrationality. maybe he was excluded or expelled from the group. but jam-packed with meaning and signs. Regarding it then. then the irrational. and Platonism had to be overhauled.” From legends and allegories let’s now return to history. 64   GEOMETRY . to our informed eyes. The first proof that we knew. exactitude collapses and condemns reason to silence. the theorems of geometry. the Egyptians or the Babylonians. was close to dying from this. the stories that relate them abound in legends. Hippasus of Metapontum. Should some soul want to penetrate this secret region and leave it open. precisely the founder of the theory of the irrationals such as it is taken up again in Book X of Euclid. dies in turn from the same crisis. The anonymous scholiast continues: “the authors of this legend wanted to speak through allegory. taken from Euclid. it will drown in its relentless currents.cube was posed regarding the stone of an altar in Delos. the fact remains that it also designates the little cartouche deposited at the bottom of maps for example and meant to decipher the strange scattered signs on their space. Theaetetus. Thales at the Pyramids measured the royal and sacred tombs … Digression: if the word legend precisely denounces the very thing it announces so that no one believes what’s related under its title. So. But again.

whose diagonal is AC = a. An intolerable situation: the number b is even and odd at the same time. The Apagogic proof So we are given the proof to be explained. the proof—no doubt the oldest in history—that Aristotle calls reduction to the absurd. you can say nothing about the diagonal. Therefore. generalized from the preceding one. unsayable. by the Pythagorean theorem: a2 = 2b2. We write then AC/AB = a/b. here a/b or √2. If logos signifies proportion. totally different. Let’s reduce a/b to its simplest expression. can not be said to be either even or odd. is irrational. we can posit: a = 2c. Hence a2 = 4c2. Plato’s philosophical parricide of Parmenides and the historical end of Theaetetus are represented. Can the notions used in the course of the proof be read on the two faces of the new Rosetta Stone? FIRST IN THE RITE: THE ROYAL VICTIM   65 . Now. Given a square with a side AB = b. therefore a is even. b2 = 2c2. So b is an even number. b is an odd number. On the other side of the stone. If a is even. it is impossible to measure the diagonal in relation to the side. and √2. a number exists that. Can b be said to be even or odd? It’s undecidable. Therefore a2 is even. Hence 2b2 = 4c2. that is to say. the two lengths are mutually commensurable. on the other face. if it signifies discourse or speech. Then. incalculable. let’s write it first in its own language. the alogon designates the incommensurable. Or. Far from deconstructing geometry. They are mutually incommensurable. which is impossible. we find the crisis and the possible death of mathematics itself. as though it were a question of a text written in the first language. the integers a and b are mutually prime. The crisis takes place on a triply tragic stage. Supposing this measure to be possible. We want to measure AC in relation to AB. on which the legendary death of Hippasus. said undecidability on the contrary immediately reconstructs a new one. A crisis in three moments. And if a and b are mutually prime. a victim in three narratives.

express—something clearly understood by the theory of 66   GEOMETRY . – A new triangle in which the same and the other are found again: for two numbers. which is repeated by the other fundamental and originary theorem. In other words. the unit of measure taken as reference or ruler. To the violent crisis introduced by Callicles in the Gorgias. thus there exists a third measure whose power reduces the opposition of the rational and the irrational.Other and same: Three triangles 1. As predicted.” as if demonstrative measure knew how to win out over the rage shown by violent excess. a ruler. – Still the same triangle but finally visible and drawn: invariant across the variation of the coefficients of the squares. apart from the unit. the Pythagorean theorem allows measuring in the space of similarities. in respect to a third term. It is fortunate or necessary here that the term “measure” [mesure] has kept in the tradition at least two meanings. what does being mutually prime mean? That they are radically different. save considering the unit. Socrates opposes the famous remark: “you neglect geometry. that of geometry and that of non-excessiveness [non-démesure]. violence follows from mimetism. or a new language whose knowledge expresses at the same time the old language and the silence into which the contradiction and undecidability drive it. Here the first triangular situation returns: total alterity. where things can be of the same form and of an other size. the superior measure that dominates the irrational passions. disregarding the differences. what does being commensurable together mean? That they have common aliquot parts. The Statesman’s Royal Weaver knows a supreme knowledge. are reduced to similarity by an external point of view. inter- esting and well-known. identical for everyone. There exists. The triangular situation. locally irreducible. 3. These two senses cover over a similar situation and an identical operation. without common divisors. of non-violence and peace. 2. with respect to which these two lengths will in turn be able to be divided into parts. – For two lengths. the one by Thales. of mimetism: two differences. therefore across the variation of forms constructed on the hypotenuse and the two sides. the two great fundamental theorems. In other words. at the origin of the very first of the geometries. face to face. divided into units. but the same. or one can make. the lengths are other when alone to alone.

this triangle thus allows building and rebuilding. says the legendary text. signifies bizarre. smooth. the space of the Same and of the Other. at bottom. geometry vitrifies violence. Hippasus divulged this and died because of it. for schemas and for the procedures of proof. other … to make a blunder [un impair] … Saying the absurdity that a number is even and odd at the same time amounts then to saying as well that it is same and other at the same time. flat: same. Even and pair signify equal. is why there will be no physics: the social sciences hold the world. these latter visibly constitute the geometric idealities and the process of demonstration. Apagogic proof. From mimesis to sacrifices we return to history. caused the elementary geometrical schemas and the anthropo- logical ones outlined by René Girard to correspond point for point. not as the heavens later with the exclusive glory of the one God for the peace of Christians of good will. Here. unequal. undecidability or deconstruction. the other is the same and the same the other. rigorous and first in history. under certain conditions. thus the even becomes my equal. in numbers (even.mimetism in its language—that. additional. Even the two first theorems. legend … to the history of science … He who invented these methods sacrificed an ox. myth. the cosmos is therefore filled. reduce to the dynamic behaviors of this mimesis. with the violence and excess of mankind.6 odd. An elementary and fundamental form. missing its match. Mimesis What. For the same reason. Universally triangulated. now. left over. as can be read in the Timaeus. the philosophy of mimesis. the crisis of the irrationals kills Pythagorean arithmetic and the first Platonism … FIRST IN THE RITE: THE ROYAL VICTIM   67 . in a word. in a triangle. lastly with the King’s measure. as in forms (triangle and diagonal). therefore concludes about mimesis. Everything happens as though Platonism. Just like religion. It says that it’s reducible to the absurd. All the originary elements. after every contradiction. with their alterity or their resemblance. in mimetic language. is the even and the odd? The French and English words for example translate the Greek words well. the entire space of models and imitations. but with rivalry. odd or prime). impair.

How does it happen then that reason takes facts that the most ignorant can establish and construct and proves them to be irrational? There must be a reason for this irrationality itself. they remain constructible on the square. even if we prove. Yet it exists. ignorant. Or again. the way a top turns. but the theory that has conditioned our proof. The adjective “apagogic” precisely comes from a legal word: to arrest a criminal. the deciding authority escapes us: number imposes its law on us. the obligatory passage. unfolds as a contradictory process where. that their geometrical mode of existence is no different from that of the side. Yet. The obstacle commands more than reason does. exclusively critical. some thing belongs at once and at the same time to some set and to its complement: it is necessary to decide. Therefore. to pay a fine … But here. that of the Northwest. it remains as plain as a thousand suns that if the diagonal or √2 are incommensurable or irrational. and the objective criteria of the sciences said to be hard. between the social sciences. before judgment. via impregnable reasons. It can always be proved that you can neither talk nor walk or that Achilles will 68   GEOMETRY . it exists. understood as judgment issued by a tribunal. is going to know how and be able to construct it. second act. we can do nothing about it. In other words. the first one that can be said to conclude. Translated into common language: mimesis is reducible to contradiction or to the undecidable. Here is the very ordinary and humble movement of science: let science reach an objective dead end of this type. We bring it to the undecidable. Even children know how to play with the top that the Republic deconstructs as stable and mobile at the same time. we can do nothing about it.Quick passage to the tribunal A little judicial interlude: this proof via the absurd. Or as the other will say: and yet it turns. Even the Meno’s little slave boy.7 That’s the way it is. and from this critique to a criterion that’s neither subjective nor collective. Here is the passage from crisis to critique. and it will immediately transform its presuppositions. the theory that precedes and founds the proof must be transformed. Construction and non-deconstruction Yet this was said more then two millennia ago: why play a game that has already been decided? For. we are proving the absurdity of the irrational. that it is undecidably both mobile and fixed. What becomes absurd is not what we have proven to be undecidable.

the end of this story. Interface Thus constructed. mathematics finds an order again. bringing about the FIRST IN THE RITE: THE ROYAL VICTIM   69 . Following these sacrifices order reappears: in mathematics. and all the philosophy that precedes must not be arrogantly reputed to be antiquated. Hence history: Theodorus continues along Hippasus’s legendary path and multiplies the proofs of irrationality all the way up to √17. the facts of irrationality. founded on the square. Therefore the theory must be objectively transformed. Just as the square. in their rigor. the operators of this movement must also be made to appear. Theaetetus dies. Society is finally in order. of mathematics. Consequently. That’s how it is. deployed in the very first geometric proof. in a certain fashion. on the iteration of the diagonal. in that of history. in philosophy. René Girard’s schema allows us to show the interface of these languages. Yet we talk. all constructed on the Same–Other couplet. The crisis stops. So there are many of these absurdities. a new Royalty finds itself founded. with the return of time over itself. A sacrificial crisis is at stake. Euclid will be able to write Book X of the Elements. So. than rational relationships. Plato overhauls his philosophy: in the course of the famous. A series of deaths accompanies its translations into the languages being considered. For it isn’t enough to recount.never catch up to the tortoise. but the Statesman. are discovered. their reattachment. parricide. although symbolic. for the Same must be Other. Its message passes from language to language. once past the crisis. Theaetetus takes up again the archaic Pythagoreanism and gives a general theory that founds. in a new reason. the one that recounts the Battle of Corinth. of philosophy. equipped with its diagonal appears as the schema of the complete intersubjective relation. father Parmenides is sacrificed on the altar of the principle of contradiction. their link. the fleet-footed athlete quickly passes the slow animal. in the language of legend. historical in common language. in political society. we even know that there are many more of them. to speak the common language. or non-being must be. technical in the language of system. The Royal Weaver combines rational proportions and the irrationals into an ordered network. in history. we walk. Now these latter. after the technology of the dichotomy. the Rosetta Stone can now be read on all its faces. The dialogue that recounts all this isn’t entitled the Geometer. as we shall see.

In the course of our knowledge we continually forget it: but it always comes back and. and the two parallel lines are now connected. whose name means that he crosses the sea. Thus today. The origin of geometry then emerges from a sacrificial history. in its internal dynamic. before having doubled it in order to invent the greatest theorem of Antiquity? Like every science and every knowledge in general. point for point. at certain times. so the triangle and rigorous proof appear. Legend. 70   GEOMETRY . philosophy. Should Metapontum the geometer. history. Theaetetus’s death pangs due to the violence of warrior combat.formation—among others?—of ideality as such. geometry begins by taking root in the problem of Evil. from now on be called Pontifex?8 His violent shipwreck in the storm. the parricide perpetrated on Parmenides. as though they covered each other over. we are tragically passing through the origin again. pure science lastly show the common borders over which a unitary schema builds bridges. myth. through manipulation of all the operators of mimesis. are these the same ritual murders? Was the altar of Delos constructed on the stone on which we have read these diverse origins. stronger than ever.


Spaces of exclusion: Discursive
Speaking: The square with monsters
In the museum of Rhodes you will see a vase from the good era on the
side of which you’ll find painted two men, who, above the equator, seem
to be conversing amiably, calmly seated on stools, themselves supported
by the swollen middle; on the southern side each seat conceals a monster
crouched under the belly of the vase and in the belly of each speaker no
doubt: hidden, invisible, ready to bite, to cry out, to kill, they show an
animal violence at the foundation of dialogue.
So you think you’re exchanging a few words between just the two of
you, but two beasts, below, are added to this couple. On both sides of the
diagonal of the new square thus formed forces are on the watch that pure
reasoning, and first and foremost communication, must exclude in order
to exist.

Return to the page
Communication possesses technologies of transport, storage, facilitation,
or multiplication of the message, recorded tapes, printing, telephone
… One of the simplest, richest, and most ancient of such technologies,
writing, allows storing, transporting, and multiplying information; before
broaching questions of style, of the arrangement of the narrative or
argumentation, it consists in a drawing, ideogram, or conventional graphe.

Written communication links together two persons well versed in the
same graphism, trained to code or decode a meaning by means of the same
key. A written message only passes if the receiver possesses the key to the
A subsidiary condition requires that at transmission the scribe should
execute it as best as possible. What does this mean? That it is composed
of essential characteristics, laden with meaning: normalized letters, good
formation of their sequences, of the words and their series, governed by
rules of morphology and syntax; but also accidental characteristics, devoid
of signification, which depend on the clumsiness or skill, the culture,
passion, illness … of the one doing the writing: shakiness, failed drawings,
spelling errors …
The first condition presupposes orthography; the second one a type
of calligram that preserves form over accident. Logicians and philoso-
phers are interested in form, rarely in cacography, the pathology of the
communication channel; the invention of printing for example, besides
the multiplication of messages, above all assured the everyday benefit of
a regular and standardized written form: there is no longer any need to
become an epigraphist to read it. Graphology is the false science attached
to the psychological motives of calligraphy or cacography: can we talk
purely about these impurities?
Spoken languages as well experience a pathology of communication:
in squabbles, you hear stutterings, mispronunciations, regional accents,
dysphonias, and cacophonies. Thus every technique of communication
entails background or waterfall noise, jamming, interference [parasites],
interruptions, hysteresis, diverse interceptions.
Just like the parasite, the background noise never ceases.

A third man in the dialogues?
Let’s consider, under the name parasite, the set of these jamming phenomena
that obstruct the passage of messages. Writing or speaking consists in
risking meaningful forms along channels that have constant interference:
cacography and cacophony make noise.
In dialogue and correspondence, where the source becomes reception
and reciprocally, the cacographer and the epigraphist, the cacophonist
and the sharp or benevolent ear agree to exchange their reciprocal roles in
such a way that they can be considered to be fighting in concert against a
common enemy: that parasite whose noise risks interrupting them.
Dialogue is transformed then into a game practiced by two inter-
locutors, joined together against the jamming and confusion, let’s say


against an individual determined to break their communication. Far from
opposing each other, as in dialectic, they on the contrary side with each
other in the same camp, linked through interest, because they fight in
common against the noise, the third between them.
Violence having returned, the combat changes souls.
A two-person dialogue posits this third and seeks to exclude him;
successful communication then presupposes this excluded third: a third
man or a demon, a prosopopoeia of noise, always cries out between us.
This is the triangle.
Socrates’ maieutic method for example joins respondent and questioner
together in the work of giving birth. The two interlocutors play in the
same camp, fight in concert to let the truth emerge or with the goal of an
agreement, for the success of the communication. They battle together
against the jamming, that demon or third man. The combat doesn’t always
succeed: in the minor dialogues, victory often remains in the hands of the
powers of noise; in others, the fight blazes and shows the power of this third.
But since the two combatants have agreed to dialogue, this very
agreement, whose content in addition presupposes at least an intersection
of linguistic repertoires, leads us to similarly posit a fourth man, its proso-
popoeia. The square appears.

The shakinesses of the drawing: Communication
and abstraction
Let’s write the signs of mathematics. A given symbol is drawn by means of
chalk on a board for instance. A sequence of formulas can present several
occurrences of some sign or other. Mathematicians are agreed in recognizing
the same in these varied occurrences. Yet each one differs from the other due
to the handwriting:1 the shakinesses of the mark, misfires of movement …
The logician consequently reasons not about the concrete graphe drawn on
the board here and now but about the class of objects of the same form: the
graphes in question merely evoke the abstract being of the symbol, recog-
nizable by the homothety (here then already is Thales’ theorem?) or rather
in the homeomorphy (topology in writing already?) of these graphes. This
recognition presupposes that the form is distinguished from the cacography.
Mathematicians see no difficulty in this, and the discussion seems pointless
to them because they are agreed about this act of recognition of the same
form, invariant across the variation of the handwriting that evokes it.
But where the scientist gets impatient, the philosopher wonders how
things would be with this question if there were no mathematics and the
historian wonders how things were before there was any.


For no graphic mark resembles any other, so that if one searches in
writing for which part is form and which part cacography, noise often wins

Entendre, in the two senses2
The effort to eliminate this cacography or noise therefore at the same
time conditions the apprehension of the abstract form, understanding or
comprehending, and the success of communication, hearing. Thus, a single
and same act recognizes an abstract being across the occurrences of its
concrete appearances and produces an agreement about this recognition.
Mathematicians get impatient and are surprised that this problem is
posed anew because they think in a collective that has long triumphed
over noise. For them the world of us and the world of the abstract merge
because the subject of abstract mathematics is this us, founding a city of
communication maximally purged of noise, neighboring the city of music;
here are two cities that are quasi universal, across space and across time,
almost transposable or almost invariant, among all things and all men.
For formalization, in general, carries out a double process by which
one passes from concrete modes of thinking to an abstract form or forms,
but which, in addition, optimally eliminates interference. Even better: in
heading toward an increasingly pure mathematicity, the history of this
science purges it of this jamming increasingly better. Mathematics never
ceases constructing quasi perfect communication, that of the excluded
third, on the exclusion of a demon that’s been almost definitively exorcised.
If mathematics didn’t exist the exorcism would have to be repeated.
To understand the question, can we bracket the unavoidable fact of the
historical existence of mathematics?

Discursive origins
Under similar circumstances, Plato precisely makes the recognition of the
abstract form and the success of the dialogue coincide. When I say bed, I’m
not talking about such and such a bed, mine, yours, this one or that one,
I’m evoking the idea of bed; when I draw a square or diagonal in the sand,
I’m not talking about this irregular or anexact graphe, rather I’m evoking,
through it, the ideal form of the diagonal or the square: I eliminate the
Furthermore, precisely what makes this bed mine prevents you from
understanding bed since what makes the other bed yours refers more to
you than to the bed. Goodbye to the subject. In recognizing the style of


the drawer in a given shakiness of the drawn square, we talk about his
genius and not about this form. So goodbye to every personal subject. Do
you want to have a successful dialogue? Then don’t talk any more about
yourself. With regard to the world and astronomy without eyes, we will
again find this exclusion of every subject which constituted the Hellenic
genius. Noise? You or me. Beasts? Me and you.

Thus the elimination of what conceals form, cacography, jamming and
noise, thus the exclusion of every subject, make possible a science for
the Universal for us and, in rigor and in truth, in the Universal in itself.
Mathematics came from identifying the one with the other.

The differences, again
The first effort to make communication succeed in dialogue renders form
independent of its empirical or personal realizations.
Jamming and noise, any parasite—the third of form—ceaselessly
intervene so as to bring the first dialogues to aporia. The dialectical method
gets its source in the same regions as the mathematical method.
Excluding the empirical consists in planing down the differences,
the plurality of others that cover over the same: the first movement of
formalization. In this sense, the reasonings of modern logicians regarding
the symbol resemble the Platonic discussion about the geometrical form
drawn in the sand: the line’s shakiness must be eliminated, the stroke’s
randomness, the gesture’s misstep, the set of encounters that makes it so
that no graphe has strictly the same form as any other.

Likewise, the perceived thing is endlessly distinguishable: a different word
would be necessary for every circle, symbol, tree or pigeon; and again for
yesterday, today and tomorrow; and again depending on whether the one
perceiving, you or me, is irritated, suffering from jaundice, and so on ad
infinitum. At the extreme consequence of empiricism meaning becomes
totally submerged in noise, the communication space becomes granular,
like the space in which neither Achilles nor the arrow reaches their goal;
dialogue becomes condemned to cacophony. The empirical only makes
So the first of the third men, the empiricist, must be excluded; this is
the strongest of our demons, since it suffices to open our eyes and ears to
see that he controls our world. In order for dialogue to succeed, our eyes
must be closed and our ears must be plugged to the song and beauty of the
Sirens. With the same movement we eliminate hearing and noise, vision


at this or that date. The link in Platonism between a dialectical method—in the sense of communication—and a progressive purification of abstract idealities in the style of geometry is not an accident of the history of ideas.and the faulty drawing. at every opportunity. lively and agreed upon debate. it is said. An enterprise succeeds when it launches a mimetism. Hold on: is the collective constituted by this free. for it would then be necessary to explain where this latest attraction came from. In the Greece of the fifth century. the parasite and the contract Certain Anglo-Saxon authors like to praise the early Milesian collectives for having achieved argued debates whose mutual critique produced. as in the Paris of the Enlightenment or Vienna in 1900. by the same stroke we conceive form and we understand each other. The Greek miracle of mathematics therefore had to be born at the same time as a philosophy of dialogue and through dialogue. the minor Socratic dialogues precede mathematics the way. the solution to the problem of the origin would therefore presuppose it to be already resolved. the lure of gain. measuring a square plot of wheat did in the Nile Valley. Explaining the sudden success of geometry and physics. One might almost think we were in an analytic philosophy department! If the ancient Greeks had had the genius to invent that science then they must have lived and thought like we do! By describing their own world. and so on. exterior to it? That is the question.3 The opposing thesis: On discussion. it’s never anything but a question of winning out incomparably 76   GEOMETRY . money … or culture. these historians assure its publicity at the same time. Whether it’s a question of fashion. or is it born on the contrary from natural objects or the idealities of geometry itself? Is consensus born from necessity or necessity from consensus? In one case. nor is it an episode in the voluntary decisions of the philosopher. glory. ran to science as others ran to painting in Renaissance Venice or Florence. But exclusion joins the farmer and the philosopher. or to war under Napoleon. the love of power … seems pointless. the subject itself. geometry. certain people. both of whom chase out the interfering parasites. according to them. or to the stock market and fortune today. there or elsewhere. struggle. In this sense. which in itself debate itself could not settle. strategy. What relation does social and contractual debate maintain with the thing itself. by another motivation. interest in utility.

Do you seek first place in geometry? Then your life. Do you love open debate? Do you delight then so much in being right? You think you must win out over all the others: you neglect geometry. Mimetism. some critical mass. he gave the latter the first rank. drugged with imitation and empty victories over others. a fundamental social passion from which come power and glory. in claiming to be ranked first. discoveries and force.over others. three kinds of life. finery. divine and human! Come on. and to some given charlatanism just as much as to geometry. conversely. and just like Plato and others. he inverted the ranking. So it’s one of three things: either the set continues its path and the deviants realign themselves or. all-powerful among the gods of polytheism as among men. even geometrical and contemplative as well. So this mimetism remains. Socrates lectures Gorgias. suddenly the mass undulates like a sail in the wind. folds and sets off for the south. intelligence. Isn’t that winning out even more and even over everyone definitively? What an ignoble paradox to place equality at the summit of every hierarchy. they depart in their own direction and become separated from their colleagues. wealth and honors. It remains to fill it with a variable content: money. devoted respectively to honors. whose very word repeats two equal things. is only devoted to these honors. again Let’s no longer cheat by yielding to the self-publicity of the abstract life. or trinkets … Let a small group of women and men. alone involved. equally. or children. confesses its quality of being an ordinary life. force. by bringing him back to geometric equality: for. this morning or at the origin of time. it is said. who leads the violent life of the strong and turns it into theory. By giving it the supreme honors. or the entire group follows the direction FIRST IN DIALECTIC: THE INTERLOCUTOR   77 . Pythagoras distinguished. it reigns all-powerful among the gods as among men. quantitatively. here or there. and like a motor it will launch an irresistible mimetic impetus: this applies to feathers for hats just as much as to murder. is achieved here in and through mimetism. riches. and contemplative knowledge. he says. thus to debate or discussion. the life of contemplation. The set and the subsets So assume the movements of a school of fish heading west in parallel. honors. devote themselves to a gesture and reach. Geometric equality. The change begins with a little subgroup.

4 So I’m willing to accept that discussion created geometry.5 Do we really imagine that it’s the leader who’s the enemy? Consequently. unpre- dictable. as well. Likewise for discussion. The French verb contrôler [to control] expresses this state of affairs marvelously: to occupy a counter- productive or counter-communicative role in order to manage the set of communicative and productive roles and networks. it’s only a question here of the same behavior or rather of the behavior of the same. so different from the common customs of the set? The law of mimetism applies universally. the originary contract. an unpleasant and often invisible character. therefore error and death. Thus the burden of explication doesn’t focus on uniformity: if a group marches in step. charlatans of the worst kind. which takes up the primitive mimetism. For how long? But how did the subgroup itself begin? Can we explain how and why it suddenly gave itself over to the same accorded gestures. drinks beer or believes in the divinity of beavers. like that of language. Differential changes no doubt continuously trouble a thousand little subgroups that are more or less lucky in their directive relation to the totality of the school. we can hold the practice of discussion responsible. The parasitical 78   GEOMETRY . the logic of mimetism remains ambiguous. They don’t produce or communicate but do paradoxically govern the system they prevent. and who lives off us. no doubt because they place obstacles to it. long recognized as the best and the worst of things. Humanity has been heading in the same direction as the scientists for only forty years. the ferocious injustices of the most famous trials of Anaxagoras and Socrates. This inevitable lining up proves to be productive and destructive at the same time since it builds empires and brings them down by dividing them against themselves. for the death of geometry in Greece during Proclus’s time. again at different costs than hand to hand combat. inevitable perhaps. sophistry. across the exacerbated rivalries of the Greek schools. dresses in blue. The parasite Why? Because a parasite is immediately associated with every discussion: objective noise. and the singular thing it propagates depends on randomly dispersed circumstances.of the declination introduced by the different ones. reserving the right to say that it has at the same time produced. rhetorical and dialectical cleverness. speaks the same language. battles with sword or saber. The parasite is to communication what the exploiter is to production. a beast among us.

and since it has impelled the general fate of humanity for forty years. concerning the trials against Zeno and Anaxagoras. Democritus readily puts his rigorous proofs above the art of the harpedonaptai. 63–76) it devotes to the relationships between the sciences and the law. Diogenes Laertius and Plutarch report that Thales measured the Great Pyramid … En bloc. One can make out why. opposes these two birth- places. this corpus of sources of the Greek miracle shows at least a concordance: the putting of Greece and Egypt into relation. In other words. Was geometry born in the valley of the Nile or along the shores of the Ionian Sea. the Timaeus has Solon dialogue with an old Egyptian priest. therefore from debate. science still seems the best and the worst of things at the same time. parasitically intercepting the flows of communication and thus deserving.heaviness of the commentary finished it off. a traditional discussion. again How did the first physicists of Ionia. To avoid the certain evils of jealousy and crime. on the contrary. Already perennial in Antiquity. either before or after. We find The Natural Contract again and the pages (pp. the logic of the parasite functions just as ambiguously as the logic of mimetism. Along a linear FIRST IN DIALECTIC: THE INTERLOCUTOR   79 . Divide or legacy? This amounts to reasoning along the unitary thread of monodromic time: a thing happens at this point. break the exclusively political or judicial discussion of that time to hold a different discourse about water and the objective principle of things. Herodotus recounts Sesostris’s agrarian divisions and the importation of geometry into Greece. The tribunal. as is seen in the doxog- raphy. and why the question of its relations with wisdom is always posed. to stand before the tribunals? They broke the common social contract and the exclusive political law. WRITING: The Egyptian page Aristotle writes that Egypt was the cradle of mathematics. taken up again in Montucla and Bailly in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries when the hieroglyphs were deciphered. Wisdom and perhaps philosophy thus must be defined as the set of advice and practical conduct whose effect allows us to resist the mimetic impetus. up to our time. certain people preferred to withdraw from the beneficial works or effects of production and communication. three millennia after the origin.

Is this space square? Are the four lines here equal? Do these lines traverse it? He says: a space of this type. better than Euclid or Thales. shows it and demonstrates based on it: a language speaks about a graphe. I’m not talking about this.model. their concordance. this diagonal. since where the ignorant slave draws his knowledge from is being sought. Socrates. of the origin of knowledge. A pertinent discourse designates the singleton and its complement in the set being considered: it and what is not it. If geometry is the example for the question. 80   GEOMETRY . of the origin of geometry. of the faithful and the unfaithful. this new figure. geometry. First. the other is mistaken. then a language that talks about this traced drawing. which geometry? That of Thales. A dualism of the false and the true. He ceaselessly uses the demonstrative: I’m not talking about this square. it’s definitely a matter. he discovers a particularly faithful language for expressing visible varieties in formulas. Was it born from a transport by sea. in the dialogue between the Greeks and the Egyptians and amid their relations? But first. present or absent. What is it in practice? Not in the ideas it presupposes but in the activity that posits it. starting from here. The single line of history then divides the authentic and the erroneous. but in particular about this. and the very thing it’s a question of. but like them. this side. that very thing you just traced in the sand with the end of a stick or drew in any other way. His plane imitates the Egyptian desert where light wrote. He speaks of drawing. When he invents algebraic geometry. a graphism and the organon that designates it. it is necessary to decide. Both in its problematic content and in its linguistic form. This amounts to neglecting the massive lesson of the sources. there is no middle. a surface like this one. If the one is right. but about the set of graphes with the same form: the drawings of the family participate in a single discourse. at least laterally. from this corner which remains empty … It’s a matter here. Plato doesn’t operate any differ- ently. a graphic art of drawing. note it well. the others which aren’t the same. This is not only true of archaic geometry but also of Descartes for example. The demonstratives Whether meditating or demonstrating. questions the slave with these demonstratives. as we will see when we read the Meno. there as in the texts: either Democritus or Herodotus. Here then is a schematism and a language.

an art of repro- duction. the Cartesian-style system of reference holds the attention: visibly. Necessarily. Does geometry reduce to a strategy of measuring? If geometry is a metric we are brought back to the traditional questions which have for three centuries or more obstructed the discussion about its origin. for mathematics has nothing to do with exactitude. demonstrable. without the mastery of what we call perspective. the scale varies in it. Or under repro- duction. The topographical maps. of the cone. perfect forms: that of the circle. This proves Herodotus and the old stories of the harpedonaptai right: the Nile Valley mastered the metric. From exact measurement to pure reasoning the road was cut off by the Mediterranean Sea. The confusion of the pure abstract and the metric makes any passage from precise measurements to the purity of the abstract impos- sible. From the exact to the rigorous the path never ends. by an FIRST IN DIALECTIC: THE INTERLOCUTOR   81 . the true sense. not precisely. elevation. has no need for their presence: as is said. But this latter demonstrates by accumulating demonstratives. in the closest proximity of its object. if by this is understood an exact technique for scale drawing. Whether they find them or not has no importance to the matter. in which plan. Furthermore. etc. The harpedonaptai engender Monge for example. Geometry. Along this endless path historians tried to locate. even crude. shown. and section are mixed. in the Greek sense. they would instead have stopped them on the path of mathematics by launching them on the infinite road of approxi- mation. or better. And the question remains: how to speak adequately about a traced line? Reproductions What now on the subject of the graphic arts in Egypt? A few building reproductions remain for us. language adapts. It discourses about a drawing. not Theaetetus or Eudoxus or the Platonic School. as refined as you could wish. the architect and builder knew geometry. The positivism or Cartesianism of graph paper hides the right solution from us. The plan of a naos is drawn in black ink on an exactly orthonormal red quadrilateral. So the Greeks were able to import everything that in geometry falls under measurement. physics and the applied sciences are exact or inexact. Faithful. in nature or in art. The thing is there. that is to say. But the Gurab papyrus shows a reproduction of the same type in its perfection. Besides the precision of the linear drawing. If the Egyptians had transmitted to the Greeks strategies of measurement. it reasons rigorously about just any drawing. that have come down to us confirm this feeling. mathematics is anexact. like the building from el-Amarna.

In passing. an entire memorized knowledge. with some given Egyptian priest. the comparison of the two codes resolves. We are returning to our premises. the sun writes the monument’s hieroglyph on the desert. rather its form or presentation. The hieratic and demotic cursives bury it. the most opposite. Solon. the Egyptian system of representation masters reproduction. But these singulars conceal a collective. its projection on the desert plane or the drawing of its edge. The sages cross the Mediterranean. written down information. Hence its abundance. the vase and the house. each in his own language. almost immediately. assembles directly objective emblems. one system finds another one. A traditional science lies across the Nile Valley. at minimum: a graphic system. about the one that time has whitened. one culture encounters another one. The road remains so. Egyptians and Greeks spoke to each other about science: about the ancient science and the new one. the old and always being reborn question of the overabundance of knowledge: overwhelmed by an innumerable stock. but in its repro- duction. its value doesn’t matter for the moment. In fact. Hieroglyphs exhibit the object. Thales and Socrates talk about a drawing.anexactly infinite distance. a scientist. one means of signing collides with another one. Instead of 82   GEOMETRY . sleeping on papyrus. here. about the one which is budding so presently that the archaic one judges all Greeks to be children. whatever the pedagogues who think they’re opening access to mathematics to children with cubes and matchsticks may believe. the means to control it. from the origin. So Thales didn’t measure the Great Pyramid directly. Plato likewise draws a diagram in the sand and shows this—this corner and this line—before demonstrating. the stick marks the diagonal. Translation Treating the corpus of sources as an undivided set does show a concordance: the encounter of the Greeks—Democritus. It is necessary to translate. Everyone dialogues. There. Already entirely in the plan of the naos or the map of gold mines. Here is the bird. the ox. we invent. opposed to the numeric reduction of alphabets. We’ll have to call this translation geometry. The texts recount the circumstances and contacts of some given Greek traveler. Let’s make things more precise. Thales … —with the Egyptians. show it. A set of stored acquired knowledge. its shadow.

at least at the origin. The drawing of the vase designates it and moreover communicates its form and size. and improving. and also in that the known evolution of ideograms shows a tendency to eliminate detail. realism. Each drawing represents a word. into the commercial trading posts scattered around the perimeter of the Greek world. At least from what someone who doesn’t decipher sees.transmitting objects. FIRST IN DIALECTIC: THE INTERLOCUTOR   83 . The legend of Thales. so the faithfulness to the thing cannot be assessed in the native language of a system constructed to exhibit this thing of itself. The Phoenicians brought their writing. this object here shown by language. vowel notes appeared. The Greeks discovered this enormous gap upon their disem- barkation from their trip. their faithful diagram. which subsequently were to spread and remain more or less stable in the form of the alphabet. We’re crossing the sea once more. a manifest and silent relation in the logographic drawing. the hieroglyph shows a drawing or a reproduction: proto-geometric. Alphabet The first writing with alphabetic notation. through reproduction or planar projection. to say the relation between the outline in the sand and the standing tomb. passing from Khufu to the prismatic hieroglyph.” the graphe loses the size and form of the object. Through the alphabetic writing of the four letters of the word “vase. Greek writing is the opposite of this system. a Greek for example. certain Semitic notations. as though in return. From the Semitic systems to the new one. the graphic reproduction of these objects. still consonantary. The sign systems we are examining are the ones that are the most different among those that the Fertile Crescent or the eastern Mediterranean had put in place. to purify itself into a diagram. Just as the rigor of a system can’t be assessed in its native language. as it seems established used to be done. Thales’ theorem precisely designates what the written word says: the class of similar forms of all sizes. that is to say. so that it’s necessary to find a new language to communicate this information. Representative. the relation between the hieroglyph and the object represented. Image. but analyzes the phonic flow into elements. felicitously named to designate its Greek origin. intuition. entirely fated to show it to the eye. pictographic. The alphabet no longer reproduces the object. marks an important stage in the evolution of the means of communication. a thing. in this sense. is transmitted. The Egyptian system closes off this relation. which cannot be said in its own graphism.

Of what must we give an account? Of the emergence of the abstract. tablet or parchment analyzes something entirely different from the object it’s supposed to designate. A convention comes into contact with an intuition. 84   GEOMETRY . where the syllables are divided into letters. since incapable of thematizing itself. in the heat of the encounter said by the corpus. Whatever translation we may imagine between the two systems. As though in another origin. but of the pure. gets up and sets out to try to catch up to it. and their encounter produces it. What must we explain? Abstraction as gap in relation to the object. Logos becomes relation. In the closest proximity to a stony faithfulness that cannot turn toward itself. Discourse. There. now spoken. How to analyze. it takes note of its formalism. In passing again. But remains fascinated by faithfulness. The logosyllabic system becomes syllabic and cuts up the word. the prefix “meta” remains as a residue. The logogram draws the word or the thing. Consequently. it emerges as abstraction. we should expect that knowledge and its transmission will find themselves drastically changed by this. it soon becomes consonantary. Let’s assess this gap: the two systems are together like a language and a metalanguage. The one describes things-words. That which was to be proved. and dead. Examine what happens in the concord- ance’s short circuit. Repetitive. How to alphabetize a hieroglyph? By discoursing on a drawing. unity becomes element. the drawing on the beach. consequently. convention discovers itself to be conventional. Not of the exact metric. then a true alphabet. And this simplified system functions exactly like a proto-algebra. convention. dichotomize this sign that designates a diagram? What is geometry? Yes. formalism. Here is a sign system that’s faithful to the objects but which cannot assess this fidelity of itself. in our time the first system is catching up to the second one through dynamic pictography. A formalism discovers a form. the discourse on a drawing. The encounter produced abstraction. It’s a sign of sign of sign. is a sign system that designates signs. The difference between the two systems explains it. A discourse encounters an image. Source Solon and Thales arrive in Egypt: a quasi algebraic system enters into short circuit with a proto-geometric system. its opposite. the other analyzes signs-words. opposite it.

the formal departs towards the real or the abstract towards the concrete. Is there really more information in the plan. through controlled mediations. of this analyzing system to hieroglyphic diagrams in addition explains the interesting birth of the interminable discourse of mathematics. endlessly continued all the way to us. cut up into slices. A poverty finds an expedient and sets off on a trip to seek a fortune which of itself isn’t recognized to be such. The Greek system analyzes: this is the motor. without known border? In this short-circuit or this concordance. as the arrow flies to the target. the stereometric solids. the sun. or hieroglyph than in the linear sequence of letters. diagonal and square … the figures conceal a thousand horns of plenty from which unceasingly flow infinite combinations of an abstract alphabet that doesn’t know how to nor can catch up to them. the former system starts to dichotomize again as soon as it finds a field in which to relaunch its own functioning.The reference. with Egypt and geometric figures. the alphabetic system thus encounters a system that’s rich and object-oriented. The alphabet runs toward the hieroglyph. Poor and abstract. discourse tries to catch up to intuition. which has just produced the abstract. finds the other whose proto-algebra has precisely geometrical form as its ideal: FIRST IN DIALECTIC: THE INTERLOCUTOR   85 . are constructed on the darkest lack of the sign system. like Democritus’s cylinder or cone. Therefore on the Egyptian encounter. where each system rids the other of its defects: the one. diagram. For where can we find the source of the flow engendered there. with an algorithmic horizon. The final result of a fundamental dichotomy. as every alphabet or algebra would do: hence its fascination with demonstratives. Crossbreeding The diagram system indeed groups more information for the gaze. Plato’s philosophy. of its grand narrative. hundreds of lines to define a television image. a certain formal Zeno had described Achilles immobile in full sprint. Limited. the Greek system perhaps causes the opposite effect. As though one wanted to fill an interval with points. Incapable of intuition. planar and intuitive. From the foundation of mathematics. as we know. especially if the drawing of these latter is only formed to the sole end of distinguishing them from each other as points or lines? Does the eye receive more information than the ear? It requires. the Greek system can only represent it as a horizon. linear and conventional. Triangle. the idolatry of the idea. the inventor at the same time of the first infinitesimal calculus and elementary atomism. the sight model. proto-geometric. Discourse endlessly unwinds the diagram.

knots. but single. there is no science without this irresistible flow. is reached 86   GEOMETRY . Never-ending flow Something starts that’s never going to end: interminable. the realist one and the conventional one. as the historians say. by the cursive scribe as well? Return to exclusion The antecedent of the principle of the excluded middle or third appeared in the practice of successful dialogue: an agreement. drawn before our eyes. minimal. there. Do the philosophical quarrels and solutions also ensue from this? Wasn’t every science known today born from the crossing of these two cultures. graphes in general. The voyages of Thales. History as history is not born with writing. edges. excluded. Solon and others. for the marriage. disappears for the long term. the dialogue with the old priest whose knowledge was whitened by time. the intuitive one and the formalist one. as with the Morse alphabet. just as it will require the infinity of an irrational sequence to (not) describe this finite diagonal. The letters don’t merely. by the double crossbreeding of the Semitic one and the Indo-European one. of science and the history of science. They also draw openings. This crossbreeding drives the obstacles away so as to pass the percolation threshold: everything flows starting from this source or this confluence. but in the Mediterranean concordance between two systems of signs. its practice and its horizon. Semite and Indo-European? As Christianity was? The drawing of the sign Now remove all measure.each gives the other as a never-ending task the very thing it doesn’t know how to do. build this crossing where every obstacle. The difference and the contact between the two systems of writing produces abstraction at the same time as a perpetual motion: a double source. intermediary lines. the ideal of the one finding before it the blind technique of the other and reciprocally. each bringing. Here already is topology. the line of signs will not fill the monstration of the thing.6 We have seen the geometer preceded by the weaving artisan. reduce to points and lines. closings.

upstream. constitute a dialogue that’s more and even better canonized?7 Doesn’t the court open a space of decision? The procedure’s very form has as its goal to transform an anterior opposition able to put into play terrible forces. of demon- strable proof? But again. that is to say. Rigorous. finally. visible and shining at the head of a comet. and their debates so well mastered that the dialogue controlled by experts and the best of proofs will use them. doesn’t a trial. of the contradictory and resolved dialogue. From geometry. New genealogy of interlocking places What then is a tragedy—whose representation and acts in turn display a contradictory situation in which choice seems impossible between some given action and its opposite but which ends up cutting this impos- sible to untie knot in which most often life and death are at stake—if not the precondition. link by link. announced from the Anaximandrian origin. But these latter actions don’t take place without duly canonized social representation: there is no court without theater.regarding the expulsion. from which descends. to the structure of language and to the structure of the actions of law and justice. the mortal exclusion and expulsion of an animal victim that was one day substituted during a public exhibition for a man who was in the past really sacrificed and put in the center of society? From the religious rite or the sacred tangent to murderous violence proceeds the tragic. at the end of which a jury decides between the two in-stances facing each other. how can we not see that upstream from tragedy ritual sacrifice took place. we’re tracing back. the antecedent or the origin of the trial. of a victim. which alleviates it in representation. life itself. if tragedy translates in our languages the old Greek term which signifies the scapegoat or ram. Consequently. the exclusion of a third term translates the exclusion of a man or of a body. FIRST IN DIALECTIC: THE INTERLOCUTOR   87 . the judicial rite or theater. the way light blinds the shadow even more surely than the latter veils the former? Haven’t we said that the adjective “apagogic” originally belonged to the vocabulary of the law? Contradictory in its terms and the interests it opposes. into terms to be solemnly debated: the judicial institution changes the things into cases and accusations. does the first apagogic proof conceal with its brilliance what precedes it. of a condemned culprit. dazzling. therefore. as we see for example in Corneille’s Horace. from this we can trace back to the previ- ously described antecedents. transparent.

the religious lastly and ritual. as in a trial. the real and living Pouchet himself in the case at hand. In such a formal festival. ever produced any positive verification. whose theory he was combating. physical objects intervened in order to decide. Nothing was lacking to this pomp: neither the experiment said to be crucial with the swan neck vessels. now. exclusive of each other. whose stable anthropological foundation descends all the way down to the foundations of the collectives. the artistic and the theatrical. between two contradictory hypotheses. A criterion in effect allows decision. the same as here. alas. then toward the judicial. where Pasteur. In order to rediscover the tracks of this requirement of an excluded third.From law to nature. from nomos to phusis Toward the end of the last century. these terrains are not homogeneous to each other: the latter ones come under the jurisdiction of the social sciences. While a common invariant joins or orders them into genealogy. nor the excluded third. what in the final analysis remains of the anciently tragic in the most recent performances of science? 88   GEOMETRY . when all is said and done. No laboratory. we have just traced back from geometry to linguistics or the dialectic. experimented in public to thwart spontaneous generation. nor lastly the evocation of God. the world as such. Thus I am reminded of a memorable session in 1864 in the grand amphitheater of the Sorbonne. the excluded third playing the role of invariant. of demonstration and. or conversely. nor the tragedy publicly represented. the true. Here again we know how to exclude better than to include. law. aesthetics and sociology … whereas at stake evidently are language and pure reason… and finally. How is it possible that behaviors that are strictly human. so they had to reduce the requirement to the converse one of falsification. an expelled victim. to faithfulness to the real? What profound reason is revealed in the most archaic acts of social rituals. a few philosophers of nature wanted to apply the same schema as well to physical experiments by canonizing what they called the crucial experiment: a decisive manipulation that would have allowed deciding. But in addition. are linked to the most logically refined requirements of language. anthropology. from the savage rite to the judicial assembly and from the tragic to the experimental. the entire genealogy of scientific rationality can be read and understood at the same time. then at the height of his glory. nor the trial proceedings solemnly brought to suit and finally decided by a jury. nor the abstractly contradictory reasoning and taken all the way to the reduction to the absurd.

legal and rigorous all together over the course of all time. to reason rigorously. the dented meadow whose precise measuring will restore the fiscal reduction to the fellah Herodotus is going to tell us about. everything that we take to be a process remains. religious really. constantly and diversely. dragging along the image of a shadow whose ancientness precedes the new light. so deep it plunges beneath the slow plates responsible for its high mountains and quakes.Thus and poorly formulated. human. divine. with a same dynamic. to take pity on the tragic man—ecce homo—to accept the coming of the divine. to decide with moder- ation and justice. the motor of its evolutionary life and witness of our creativity. appearing in the sky. and demonstrative refinement marks the end. it hesitates and percolates from the one side to the other. always contemporary with the one who conceives it. political. Geometry measures this Earth. to transform with exactness. lastly technological and natural all at once and without a crack. we remain just as much archaic today as we were advanced in luminous proof the day before yesterday. It’s better to consider the thickness of constitution en bloc and all at once. Yet two millennia if not more separate us from apagogic proof and merely several lustra from the Pasteurian session or formal bullfight. judicial. Time doesn’t always and necessarily flow from ignorance to knowledge and from shadow to illumination. these questions set too much store by an evolutionary history whose development deludes us into believing that ritual marks the origin at the beginning. one that’s unfathomable.8 Let’s prepare this integral. FIRST IN DIALECTIC: THE INTERLOCUTOR   89 . theatrical. we will soon make these descend into another earth. So let’s leave the celestial lights and put our feet on the Earth: the smooth area of sand where the demonstrator draws the triangle. Comprehending Is it in and through a complete looping and its entire movement that we comprehend and dominate the things of the world? Is it through this mystery. toward a burning and viscous magma. nothing could be more seductive than this deceptive spectacle of the comet. that the rational occurs? A single and same gesture leads us. with successive layers. social. the surface where the shadows of the Egyptian Pyramids are going to advance before Thales’ eyes. indissociably. precision and fidelity the things said to be physical. thick. square or diagonal.

a fundamental. tribunal or stage for representation. in terror and pity. exclusion place … in sum a well-defined spot where the well-formed rule prohibits putting two different things in or on the same spot … utopia. an exact assessment of the justice surpassed by precision [justesse]. as well as the continued purification of these categories in relation to the tragic and ritual base that supports them. chopping up. a civilized city opposed to its suburb [banlieue] or banishment place [lieu de ban]. to be understood. called the temple by religion. a place opposed to the non-place. theatrical. the cutting out of which opposes the sacred to the profane expanse of chaotic wandering. transcendental place. that the contemplated abstract idealities presuppose listening in the dialogue and a tolerant forbearance in relating to the other. came from breaking up. and pure because neither mixture nor time. in general We never cease returning to the same place. that is to say. incomprehension. the synthesis meant by the verb “to comprehend. which for their part admit two opposed or contradictory things into the same place. analyzing a thickness whose mixture demands. and recently than long ago. to that closed space of the court whose solemnity astounds the most hardened of hearts … a chorus. such as the camp from which the allied soldiers exclude every enemy. the field or pagus from which the 90   GEOMETRY . the sole miracle. take place there … a space of decision. Why declare it to be miraculous that the world is comprehensible? Inevitable and oblique. the irrational. which we visited earlier under other avatars. the space of geometry implies an interlocking of these catharses repeated here: religious. whereas the site of thought or comprehension adds up or accumulates all the times of percolation. and—at the edges—with the wings and the box seats. justice deprived of exactitude or precision without pity? On place. pure space finally. to that stage that in the theater we hide—in front— with the curtain—behind—with the scenery. judicial. cuts up and separates this compact sum into its elements. whose arrogance impels us to think that we think better this day than earlier. conversely. The rational integrates this gesture and falls into criminal or derisory corporatism when a single element is lacking to its sum.” It also came from our narcissistic conception of time. Remember geometry! This call by Socrates would signify the fact that rigorous proof. In its purity. What could be more unreasonable than religion without rigor. linguistic … The immediate sum of these acts is called reason.

and therefore the source and therefore the flood of the endless discourse of that grand narrative we call geometry. in the temple. in traversing this loop.wheat expels the weeds … the page of writing from which the opinion of some pressure group chases out every citation by the one who only thinks in truth … we have just brought to light a final series of white boxes or basins from which time rushes forth and flows long. and the agora where resolved discussions shoot out. in the spaces of geometry. the court. since it requires a preliminary space on which to set up its exclusive rules. as much as you please. We connected upstream. just as much. the latter to the cultivated garden and field. the preceding sequence of these white boxes. and downstream. FIRST IN DIALECTIC: THE INTERLOCUTOR   91 . forming something like the knot of an interchange. agriculture without a cadaster or the Pyramids without the laws of Egypt. but cultural. whether connected or not. invariably passes through the temple and abstract space. the first and the second sequences. of the general science of history. but natural. as though this axis separated the nature of the field of battle or wheat from the culture of the theater or the courtroom. all kinds of other paths—in the Greek and rigorous sense of methods—from the field to the court or from the garden to the agora. surrounds this book by drawing a strand. one that is symmetrical in relation to an axis that. the next series. more technological. from nature to culture? Once all these routes open. through diverse transverse or intersecting connections. the percolation threshold suddenly occurs. also issuing from the same temple and passing through the theater. the space of the world to itself. the second one. How did the measuring of this Earth happen? Did it first travel these double-routed loops? Did it succeed in weaving. The collective is only formed through and in its objects. since war cannot do without a law. whose genealogy will link the space of the sky and that of sight. more cultural. that is. this pagus to the page and to pure space. following the time of percolation: you might think it Hermes’ caduceus! The originary space of Geometry is born as the sum or synthesis of these places from which we will finally understand the constitutive global Earth in its rational universality and inhabitability. the objects are only constituted for such in and through the collective. The elementary loop formed by these sequences of white boxes. the genealogical lines followed by this book: more natural when these lines linked the temple to the entrenched camp.

92 .

above. more or less datable. . the Ignorant will in turn appear as first. social or collective organization. —Should time lastly be reduced to that of the familial. a definite model of the world for the first one. in such a way that. evolution and science. when—old. of inaugural heroes: Anaximander. two famous theorems for the others.4  THE POINT AT NOON Origins. attributed to the eponymous ancestors by the annals. tribal. Thales and Plato open the series of geometrical inventions. whether real or supposed: indefinite space. in relation to biological life. In the monuments or texts. The human youngster. doubly scorned. the title at the head of the series. just as we long ago used to draw a space centered around ourselves as well. or. —If time boils down to the evolution of life or of the body. the annals deliver up the names. —If one traces back the common time of the historians. a certain primitive accumulates the images of an unrefined ancient and a naive new. —Should one now follow only the chronology of the schooling of the mind or of intellectual education. fabricated or apocryphal. the historian of science discovers these figures and studies their productions. by deciding that time flows from an imbecilic primitivity to a finality occupied by ourselves. persons and first inventions depend on diverse conceptions of time. Formerly we used to travel in the lands of savage tribes to persuade ourselves of a triple superiority: in history. at the sources. below. here is the Child. The Meno stages these three persons in a single person. plays the first allegorical role. These two genealogies sometimes model themselves on each other. the archaic Slave will be situated at the bottom of the ladder to be climbed.

toward an allegory or a prosopopoeia of the origin. a sphere the Greeks called NOMOS. and the note at the head of the series will be called. religious. during the course of a long path toward the upstream of the judicial and sociopolitical consti- tutions. below. as above we had. in the exact sense of the radical origin. in the field of social customs and the laws of politics or of the law. diversely qualified. at the beginning. a statue before every sensation. and the others. just as the element bore the title of Interlocutor or Scribe. flows back toward its source or its antecedent. or to the rudimentary constitution of a knowledge. Why would the term designated by history. It leads us now to name the sources and distribute them: the ones. empty under- standing. For each sequence its first term. the Element. above. throughout that nature for the hard sciences. gnoseological. Are laws [lois] found in a universe of non-law [non.droit]? To finish. even transcendental. We will trace back there anew below. political. located in the center. origins. above. encountered the royal and victimary place. the one that Euclid in his book calls a root. single for two persons. or any other. a trismegistic image of the origin. naive innocence and the zero level of every hierarchy was summed up for the evolution of scientific reason in the eighteenth century by an abstract tabula rasa—memory without any memories.educated and a table companion of the powerful—Socrates questions an Ignorant Young Slave. Each singular mode of time: historical. and which we call social sciences. from which the ancient physicists borrowed their name: PHUSIS. judicial. This originary trinity of child. social. to rethink the flow or percolation of time and the science of history. and personages as well as the lands of our habitat. in the time of the constitution and functioning of language. —Let’s lastly suppose that time boils down to the simple and strict logic whose sequence links cause and consequence. this proliferation will enjoin us to separate or to stitch together these diverse multiplicities of time. 94   GEOMETRY . below. biological. benefit from more plausibility than the others? Must the entire network be summed up to increase the probability of the true? This proliferation of geneses and origins forced us.


96 .

and the Sayings of Famous Philosophers (Thales I. Doctrines. the tangent rays of the sun engendering two triangles. its origin: what we were calling the Greek miracle. taking the observation at the time of day when our own shadow is equal to our height. the shadow it cast on the sand and the tangential ray of sun. do these sources describe a certain application of it or on the contrary. With two graphes of the famous theorem. It depends on the time of day: the first can only be observed at a single moment. with equal angles. Hieronymus reports a particular case with isosceles triangles and Plutarch the general case. But you were also accused of not liking kings …” (“The Dinner of the Seven Wise Men” 147a) These texts stage Thales’ theorem. Plutarch: “… he liked your way of measuring the pyramid … by merely placing your stick at the boundary of the shadow cast by the pyramid. by the shadow it casts again and by a similar luminous ray: both right-angled. constituted for its part by any body accessible in its height.5  FIRST IN HISTORY: THALES From the pyramid to the tetrahedron: The optical origin Diogenes Laertius: “Hieronymus says that Thales measured the pyramids by their shadows. they are homothetic here. the schema of which compares a first triangle formed by a pyramid. with a second one.” Lives. you showed that the relation of the first shadow to the second one was also the relation of the pyramid to the stick. the emergence of an abstract form and abstract .27).

for example. it’s a question of transposing a situation with unapproachable stations into the near by miniaturizing it. our body for example. whose indirect route allows access to what goes beyond an immediate practice. Aristarchus builds a reduced model of some astro- nomical situation. Aristarchus of Samos estimated the relative distance of the Sun and the Moon to the Earth. It is this general fact that necessitates the formation of mathematical science … For.”3 In his Géométrie grecque (p. optical alignment and measuring of bodies? Will we ever know how to read these narratives. inaccessible. he invents scale.4 In any case. and this is how it was led to the creation of mathematics. the human mind had to try to determine them indirectly. It consists here in constructing a reduction of the pyramid: just any vertical object. Proclus writes: “In his History of Geometry. Eudemus has this theorem go back to Thales. 98   GEOMETRY . 90). on the contrary. is the height of the tomb or that of the Sun. whether authentic or mythical? Here are a few legends for them.reasoning against the background of a previous practice or perception. by taking measurements on a triangle constructed as exactly as possible so as to be similar to the right triangle formed by the three celestial bodies at the instant when the Moon is in quadrature and when in order to define the triangle it consequently sufficed to observe the angle with the Earth. Auguste Comte: “We must regard the impossibility of determining. for he says that from the way this latter is reported to have determined the distance of vessels at sea he must necessarily have used it. The ruse of origin So given the pyramid and its shadow: the latter accessible. from a detour. To attain the inaccessible pyramid. Hence again Auguste Comte: “This is how. Thales discovers the module or reduced model. renouncing the immediate measurement of sizes in almost every case. Measuring the inaccessible consists in reproducing or imitating it in the accessible. most of the sizes that we want to know to be sufficiently verified. In fact. Tannery reconstructs the measuring technique taking inspiration from the famous fluminis variatio of the Roman agricultural surveyor Marcus Iunius Nipsus. for I can directly measure that dark half of the funerary monument. by directly measuring them.”1 Geometry results from a ruse. Observe the case of ships at sea: commenting on the twenty-sixth proposition of Book I of Euclid’s Elements.”2 Like Thales.

of the ship and the pyramid. even for accessible objects. Descartes. immediate or direct. but the relation presupposes a transport: of the ruler. of the point of view. the sun. Direct or immediate. sight alone takes charge of the movement: hence the sighting angle. but above all in the sense of touching. measuring is possible or impossible insofar as this placing is or isn’t possible. of the things covered over by a lining up. hence the shadow said to be cast. Passing from practice to theory. Nothing is so exact as a lining up of landmarks. FIRST IN HISTORY: THALES   99 . optical representation.What is application? Accessible. who knew what measurement is. what does this mean? Near. distant. Sight is a tactility without contact. described the gaze of the blind man at the distant but tactile end of his stick. the ship on the horizon. Thus. from measuring by placing to sighting. Measuring or lining up: the eye alone bears witness to this covering over. tangible. shrewdness imagines a substitute for those lengths my body can’t reach: the pyramid. Yes. only sight assures me that the ruler is applied onto them. Thales discovers the precise virtues of the gaze and learnedly organizes a scene of light. inaccessible. it touches it. as much as is necessary. the inaccessible becomes that untouchable toward which I can’t transport the ruler or that to which the unit cannot be applied. Not being able to transport a ruler. measuring requires operations of appli- cation in the sense where a metric falls under an applied science. Touching or seeing: The origin in our senses? This amounts to underestimating the reach of practical activities or restricting them to our hands. Within the accessible. Thales’ eye brings the visible to the tangible. To my knowledge. which is said by the Greek language. for the inaccessible. whose eyes do nothing but let the things themselves become lined up. he relates lines of sight or lets the light project them without him. Hence the measurement by sight of the sun and the moon. Measuring is relating. For in the end these circuitous routes consist in passing from touch to sight. untouchable. the other side of the river. The gaze sometimes reaches this inaccessible. This unit or that ruler is applied to the thing to be measured: put over the thing. Here theorizing is equivalent to seeing. transport is always possible. The pragmatic Comte thinks with his two hands without understanding the contemplative Thales. Mathematics would descend from the circuitous routes of these ruses.

Hence the figure of the gnomon. invariant. variable on the contrary are the apparent motion of the sun. Inverting the terms again. Here is the sundial. Hence. Let’s wait for the light to bring the shadow to our feet. but conversely. Space and time: The first astronomical origin The schemas of Diogenes or Plutarch present things that change and other things that remain. nor anyone with their hands. homogenizes the day for the sake of the general case. Must time really be frozen in order to conceive geometry? Bergson also wanted geometric intelligence. The calibration of the shadow’s variations cadences the sun’s course. whose tracks tell time. only the relation or the reference of the giant schema to the reduced model attains rigor. that is to say. an axis or standing stake. Thales stops time in order to measure space. Thales poses and then resolves the inverse problem of the gnomon. we were saying. the length and position of the shadow. letting the sun write its diurnal course on the sand. the invariant say the scale of the variable. to be divorced from duration. whose spatial measures index time. through the gnomon. that is. Hence the Aristarchus citation: better than a clock. he asks the Sun to speak about the pyramid. The very end of this book will find this transport again. A cleverer ruse than the one by Comte: the invariant no longer discerns the regular divergences of the variable. in Diogenes and Plutarch. Turning this entire process around. fixes the sun’s course at the singular instant of the isosceles triangles. Thales discerns the stable invariant and discovers the unknown. Ordinary experience dictates that the latter two depend at the same time on the daystar and the monument. For while measuring can only lead to exact measurements. the remains of the old problem of the moment: waiting for the instant when the shadow and the height are equal or observing the two shadows at the same moment of the day. for civil or astronomical ends. Who relates? Who transports? Neither you nor me. Better still. wholly and always spatial. rests in transport. this is an astronomical obser- vatory. he who measured space measured time. Instead of letting the pyramid talk about the Sun. Motionless for ten centuries under the Egyptian sky. amid the variable. We shall talk about this soon. 100   GEOMETRY . The optical origin The essential. here is the pyramid. asks the changing to say something constantly about what remains.

or through the model that imitates it. departing from astronomy. more sensory. For the two fragments cited seem less to recount a constitution than to stage a form that’s already there: Thales’ theorem. We will soon go back up new tributaries. geographical. The first legend. the message. one. in the case of the gnomon. The site can be moved. At the source of the light or at ground level. the inversion of the question of the gnomon indicates a civil origin. Where to find the object? It too must be transportable: through the projected or cast shadow. Thales’ schema draws an optical diagram. the exchange of the stable and the variant. Thus several geneses flow together at the sources of geometry. Hence new questions. Multiple origins A temporary balance sheet: a new proliferation of refined geneses. How did geometry come to the Greeks? The fabrication of a reduced model. and transports the object in the form of shadow. regarding which the commentary speaks of local color meant to show that the Greek sage FIRST IN HISTORY: THALES   101 . a source of light. The preceding geneses amount to transports: through the reduction or passage from touch to sight and back. let’s first intercept. but conceptual or aesthetic as well since it erases time so as to metricize space. the relation and measuring possible. deciphers mathematics by extracting the implicit schema from the anecdotal story. with several geneses. Where to place the point of view? Anywhere. when it exchanges the roles of the variable and the invariable. in passing. either the Sun and the top of the tomb or the summit of the pyramid and the far point of the cast shadow can be seen lined up. the visual representation of what defies being touched shows another. Yet sight and its spectacle presuppose: a site or point of view. the substitution of space for time. the transporting of the distant into the near marks a pragmatic origin. Where does the source of light come from? It varies. Since the lining up of landmarks makes the application. shady or bright. Ensign of the theorem: The mnemonic origin Another avatar of transport. the inversion of the gnomonic function. at least in its second version. It is going to lie in the object—we will call this the miracle. epistemological too. Stable across the apparent motion of the Sun. lastly the object.

like all the triangles of Thales’ theorem. recounting the pseudo-myth of the origin. The schema tells the goal of the story and not the story the origin of the schema. The space of transports: Circumstance identical to the schema What is transmitted or transported? Thales’ theorem. Thales sees nothing other than objects of the same form and diverse dimensions. then. come traveling to the Pyramids. Presented in this way. dramatization improves the vehicle of knowledge. The diagram of the theorem has since been transmitted by writing. Knowing. as we know. unforgettable. and for the case in point. In a culture of oral tradition narrative takes the place of schema. the story or narrative manifestly and visually resembles the mimetic idea of the similar and imitates it. For the relation of the circumstantial form to the schema is less helpful in thinking the invention of the latter in the action recounted by the former than the covering over of the latter by the former. Has anything other than this already there been invented then? Strictly faithful to the concept. and not history the key to mathematics. circumstantial and colored variety of the story. knowing Thales’ theorem. the stage is equivalent to intuition. consists in remembering the Egyptian tale and teaching it. Supposing then that I want to remember Thales’ theorem.learned everything from the Egyptian priests. then. but from mouth to ear. Deepening the schema all the way to its most abstract consequences allows us to discover the lived. Here mathematics furnishes the key to history. I can use the story of the pyramid as a mnemonic aid. the most ignorant has no trouble remembering it. but the same. The perception of the three tombs unfolds in the space of similarities as though this space was constituted in these sites by choice: each one is different. 102   GEOMETRY . It’d be better then to recognize in the story less an originary legend than the very form of transmission. it communicates an element of science more than it shows its emergence. So if the theorem relates to the group of similarities that is inscribable on or in this space where transports don’t deform forms. reduces to a presentation of the deep concept of similarity in the formal space of transports. in which space comes in aid of memory.

from another space. but come from elsewhere. we remain in representation such as the writing on a tablet or a papyrus gives us. graphes and writing. the common techniques of the surveyor who writes and draws. complex and entangled according to depth. but sets at plane level. put forward by Herodotus’s Histories. that every planar representation. into three-dimensional space: for this entire story of Thales unfolds before or in voluminous bodies whose complete repre- sentation can never be obtained because their various projected. drawn or written planes never show anything but partial profiles. architectural or agricultural measuring. we must be able to move according to the new dimension. never attains anything but a dark shadow: the scribe doesn’t attain the lights of the new knowledge. a lapidated king under the stones. Space becomes a set of possible movements. in order to know and comprehend. leaving writing in the night. that of the agricultural surveyors or the harpedonaptai. following. which is assimilated here to the funerary inscriptions in the shadow of the Pharaoh’s tomb. And therefore. in the simplistic graphe that received a cross-section of it? Let’s consequently prejudge to be enigmatic everything that’s written flatly on the flat. Thales delivers mathematics from the written. rather it shows in space that the plane plunges into darkness.A different transport: Rising to volume The dark shadow of the mortuary edifice stretches out along the desert plain in the plane. Who sees a pyramid in these profiled traces of triangles and polygonal bases? Who makes out the aerial progressions of the surfaces and lines. in the course of the projection. If we only look at this flat projection we remain in the two-dimensional metric. The origin of the space of movements To understand the events of the plane. Deliverance in relation to writing The daystar illuminates space. precisely the direction accompanied by the rays of the sun. From which comes the marvelous miracle: the elements of geometry cannot remain those of spoken language or the signs of writing. we must rise to a different and new representation. written discourse or schema. planes both of them. as different from the usual planar FIRST IN HISTORY: THALES   103 . Thales’ theorem doesn’t write. difficult to decipher. in order to see.

104   GEOMETRY . no doubt instead of a Pyramid. they decided to build for the first time the famous Labyrinth as a common memorial. fatal to his son Icarus. Therefore to exit the maze there are only two solutions: either Ariadne’s thread or vertical flight. the second one the invention of geometry: we find again the high point drawn above. so we must open the third dimension to render ten planar questions solvable. twelve kings appeared and divided country and power into as many shares. in the shadow of a poor fire. we must flee in a diagonal direction. in which the sun doesn’t merely carry light but consti- tutes the basis and condition for a voluminous and transparent space. For only the third dimension allows the resolution of the problems impossible to deal with in the single plane. towards the sun. so they remained friends. The first solution stages algorithmic of written representation as the worldly outside of the cave is from the flat wall watched. by the Platonic prisoners of artificial optical representation. it is said. or by taking the path of the third dimension? The question of origin is summed up in these images. opening the second dimension. Just as neither Socrates nor Plato says in the Meno that to resolve the question of the sides. In this originary story. ancient in the Fertile Crescent. by Daedalus. making a law for themselves not to mutually destroy one another or win out over one another. of reversible and step-by-step operations. Thales invents this stereometry that Plato claims constitutes the only true geometry. this one Cretan. in whose light one finds one’s way. Are we getting lost forever in the endless corridors and recommencing crossroads of a shared and divided power? A legend similar to precisely that of Thales is attached to this unexpected analogue of the pyramidal form. coming below in this book. How can it be better said that planar drawings pose insoluble problems that can be got out of by either taking up again the tradition. in which one becomes lost. who had ruled alone. that we therefore see founds it. Without our knowing any clear reason why. Herodotus relates (II. the form of the tomb of power when it rests in the hands of a single person. was constructed. insoluble by following their linear measure. who also wanted to escape the night. Flight In the book of his Histories devoted to Egypt. Become a symbol of a difficulty so great that whoever engages upon it becomes lost in it.147– 148) that after the death of a priest of Hephaestus. the labyrinth. the clever inventor moreover of a famous technology for flight.

the staging or the narrative of the origin: the secret of the builder and the stone-cutter.The architectural origin These two cited fragments speak about technologies and architecture even more than about perception or bodily behavior. the empirical trades. Mathematics sometimes emerges from certain techniques: by making an implicit knowledge explicit? That secrets are often found in the artisanal traditions often signifies that they remain a secret for everyone. as though the customs of nomos were found on the side of phusis and of praxis. double-locked. The shadow of the secret Let’s contemplate this primordial theater of knowledge. Khafre and Menkaure already reproduce reduced models of Khufu. a philosophy of mimesis begins again. it can remain shut up there. whereas opinion. including the master and the inventor. The entire question of the relation between the schema and history. for the similarity discovers a construction secret: because to the gaze as to the mind. dark for them. as in the shadow of the pyramid. this is a real question. immense black boxes. behind. In order to build them similar one must therefore have Thales and his theorem. Like the stake or the upright body. is hidden in the shadow: beneath the shadow cast by the Pyramids. FIRST IN HISTORY: THALES   105 . the three neigh- boring pyramids make the spectacle of homothety shine forth. The origin of the sciences in techniques?5 What is the status of a knowledge implicit in a technique? Does the latter reduce to a practice enveloping a theory? The entire question—here the question of origin—is summed up in an interrogation of the modality of this enveloping. or application of a clearly explicit concept. If a bright knowledge is hidden in the hands and in the worker’s relation to the stones and blocks. Physically and technologically. as dramatized after the Platonic mode: the dazzling daystar of knowledge and of the same shines. makes explicit. is posed in terms of Sun and darkness. Thus the cutting and disposition of the stones presuppose the theorem: practices blind to such a knowledge. the objects of the world are extinguished in this shadow. Thales places himself in the implicit of a knowledge that the Sun. between implicit knowledge and the worker’s practice. for Thales and for us.

unknown. the logos loses its contents and says nothing but this link. What is there to do or know except to measure the relation between the two shadows. The shadow shows the folds in which science lies hidden. dramatizes its concept. becomes clearer under the name of application. sometimes difficult of course. but not impossible. that is to say. cast. and we ourselves remain there. is to describe the fold [pli] of this implication that. and perhaps this is all that can ever be done should one go no further than the logos. 106   GEOMETRY . The origin of knowledge starting from a practice remains on the side of shadow. Unheard of. grasping the nature of a theory mixed with a working activity is easy. but doesn’t solve it. complicated or complex. The new logos The Pyramid projects a shadow. except to estimate the relation between the secret that sleeps in the stones and the one that closes the eyes of the practitioner? Does the relation between the two secrets tell. nor the light come through speech. In general. that is to say. It advances in knowledge by bridging two ignorances: a new light issuing from a double darkness. without decrypting either of them. Pure. recounts the relation of two ciphers. The difficult. in the other direction. rather it attaches two in-stances to each other that one could not care less about knowing. that of the mason and that of the edifice. but soluble in the end. it no longer designates a word. Thales’ geometry therefore expresses the relation between two blindnesses. certainly. endlessly explicitable with the always recommencing essential remainders. describe the secret of the relation of man to his wrought object? In this primordial legend. wonderfully designates the question without answering it. It says this relation and measures the problem. The technical activity of origin puts knowledge in the shadow. between the dark practice and its subject plunged in its cecity. full of meaning. doable. whereas the origin of a practice starting from knowledge comes from the side of light. designate. that of the lofty object and of the active subject. but doesn’t explain it. what remains forever entangled. even inextricable thing. nor a verb. under the Egyptian sun. this new logos takes the immense risk of absence in every sense. and everyone sees his own.The open or closed fold Our first readings have just unveiled the implicit knowledge hidden by a fabricated object. being the normal way of science: easy. blind. in acting. as in seeking to put theory into the light. strong in its actions.

The relation between two shadows, this is the problem in its desig-
nation, the pure name of the mode of envelopment of a knowledge by a
technique. Measurement, a ruse of application or, as Auguste Comte says,
an indirect way, repeats the implication but doesn’t explicate it. From a
technique Thales extracts another; from a practice he draws a practice. Of
course, architecture and mensuration both envelop the same knowledge,
homothety and the famous theorem; yet the application is repeated in
another application, as though from a fold [pli] another fold unfolded. The
homology of repetition ends up saying homothety again, but each time in
the gangue of the applied. The theory expressed by shadows remains in the
shadow. It was not born that day in its purity: as Plato said, as the centuries
to come will repeat, geometry does not reduce to this metric, a simple
propaedeutic inaugurating a long path of science.
There is no longer any originary miracle: the techniques are engendered
and perpetuated in repetition; measurement sees the theorem differently
than architecture, that’s all. And we remain in the great shadow of the
secret. For, again, we wouldn’t know how to think the origin of technique
except as the origin of man himself, faber from his emergence or better,
emerging because faber. At the origin, technique permits the perpetuation
and repetition of man and technique.
Thus Thales repeats his own origin, as well as ours: his metric of
pre-geometry replicates or quite simply designates differently the modality
of our technical relation to objects, the homology of the fabricator and
the fabricated; it takes its place in the open chain of these statements and
designations, but it doesn’t give the key to the cipher, doesn’t excavate the
secret articulation of knowledge and practice in which the essential of a
possible origin would be found.
A relation between two shadows, two secrets, two forms or two traces,
a relationship, an empty statement that transmits this relation, this archaic
geometry measures the problem, takes its dimensions, poses it, lets it be
seen, reports it, but doesn’t solve it.
Does the logos of the shadows still remain a shadow of the logos?

Erasure of the subject, projected object
From its dawn however, Thales’ mathematics says the de-centering of the
subject of bright thought in relation to the body that projects its shadow:
placed beyond the monument, the Sun subject leaves the body of the
astronomer on the side of the objects of the world or buries the knowing


subject as deeply as the Pharaoh’s body in the shadow. What a Copernican
reversal already in this representation of two triangles beneath the torches
of the solstice!
The Sun-subject writes forms changing like profiles on the sand, which
describe a cycle of representation. Each moment of this representation, a
moment arrested, fixed in the flat sand, is nonetheless endowed with an
invariant: the stable relation with the same shadow, at the same moment,
of another object, me for example. The perspectival measurement says an
invariant across the variations of representation. The cast shadows change,
but they have a relation to each other which for its part doesn’t change
and which opens the unknown, the secret of the Pyramid, its inaccessible
height. Inconstant, the representation designates a stability that belongs to
the object, its measurement.
From which it results that placed here, I can only know clearly about the
volume what is written or described by the cast shadows, the information
transported on the sand by a ray of sun after the interception by the edges
and the summit of the opaque prism.
What should we call this geometry? A perspective, an architecture, a
physics, an optics?

The theater of measurement shows the decoding of a secret, the deciphering
of a writing, the reading of a drawing. The sand where the Sun leaves its
trace becomes the screen, the projection wall at the bottom of the cave.
Here is the scene of representation anciently put into place for Western
knowledge, the historically stable form of contemplation from the top of
these Pyramids.
Thales’ story perhaps institutes this moment of representation,
endlessly taken up again by philosophy, but above all by the geometries,
from Cartesian coordinates to the Arguesian point of view, from Monge’s
descriptive diagram to Gergonne … The first word of a perspective,
of a projective, of an architectural optics of volumes, of an intuitive
mathematics entirely immersed in the global organon of this same
But we were forgetting, from Thales to our time, that the shadow was
cast [portée], transported [transportée] by some medium, that it was trans-
porting some information. We were reading this first spectral analysis
without excavating its condition. The big question—which messenger
transports (and how?) which message?—was covered over for centuries by
the dazzling scenography of the shadow–light opposition.


The history of the applied
Yes, Thales’ story resembles Plato’s story: the Sun of the same, the other
and empirical object, the (cast) shadow of the (shaded surface) shadow,6
the mimetic similarity, the shadowy plane of representation; or resembles
Desargues’ story: the cutting of stones, the geometry of profiles, the theory
of shadows … Let Descartes intervene, then Monge and so many others,
and they will work again and again on the side of application at the same
time as of representation by perpetuating the cleverness of engineers, and
they will therefore make the archaism of pre-mathematics survive and
obstruct the birth of said science in its purity. But this latter emerges when
this cleverness dies: not long ago. Husserl wrote the Origin of Geometry
during the time its disappearance was tolling, as though some historical
cycle was finally being completed. The narrative recounted about Thales
again describes a metric, but doesn’t recount the birth of mathematics.
As proof Plato, who requires something else for the miracle to be
accomplished: the essential reality of the idealities. A question: how can the
pyramid itself be born as an ideal form?
To answer, let’s return to the spectral analysis.

The dark entrails of the volumes
Plato drives the Thales scene down into the bottom of the cavern: the
volume writes the cast shadow onto the flat and bright wall; the light
describes its shaded surface shadow on the solid. Knowledge limits itself to
two shadows; this is the shadow of knowledge.
But there is a third shadow, whose image and projection are translated
by the other two, the deep secret buried in the entrails of the volume.
No doubt, the true knowledge of the things of the world lies in the
essential shadow of the solids, in their opaque and dark compactness,
forever locked behind the multiple doors of their borders, only attacked by
practice and by theory. Cutting can cause the stone to burst, and geometry
can divide or double the cube; now we find that the solids, which are not
exhaustible through the analysis of their sides, always preserve, sheltered,
a kernel of shadow in the shadow of their borders: we must begin again.
Hence we return to the cutting of stones and the Pyramid. A volume
of volumes, a polyhedron composed of cut-out blocks of stones, this is
the edifice. But how can we come to know such a solid except by planar
projection? And how can we take it in hand except by attacking its sides?
Thales’ geometry says this, and says it at the same time as architectural
technique and the practice of the mason. In all three cases, it’s a question of


dealing with a solid by means of the union of all the information gathered
on the diverse planes that can speak about it: secrets of shaded surface
shadows and cast shadows. A volume is expressed through its projections,
which presuppose a point of view and a drawing on a smooth surface,
itself without shaded surface shadow and without hidden fold. But, reading
and noting these traces of the volume, Thales doesn’t decipher any secret
except that of the powerlessness to penetrate the mysteries of the solid,
whose closedness is endlessly sheltered behind the openness necessary for
all information, in which knowledge is forever buried, and from which the
infinite history of analytic advances shoots forth as from a source.
His story recounts then a common result of this confrontation with
solid objects, the attack on compact volumes, grasped as indefinite,
objective, theoretical unknowns. The thing exists as such, unknown and
a correlate, a secret involuted into folds [plis] and replications that are by
essence inaccessible since explication unfolds [déplie] and therefore leaves,
behind the face of the open, the closed folded over itself.

Either I recognize the object with two shadows, shaded surface and cast;
or I admit a third kernel of shadows inside it: then theory and practice
infinitely develop this secret in an always open history, that of science,
which admits that all things always implicate the explicable.

Fiat lux
So, the history begun, it is said, in the Nile delta is brought to a close with
a lightning strike of an incredible audacity: the radical negation of these
interior shadows.
Thales’ and Ra’s Sun, whose rays, straightly intercepted, cut out an
impeccable definition of the dark triangles, reduces to the meager fire of
the prisoners of representation in the Platonic cave that’s so encumbered
with smoke everyone cries, blinded. Only the sides or pure lines dazzle,
due to these rays and formed by them, as well as the points or vertices,
luminous foci, little diamonds without dimension where the radiant lines
converge. Borders again.
Outside, the new Sun emits a transcendent light that transpierces the
things and transmits a vision that goes through walls. Now the marvelous
miracle is achieved: the transparency of volumes, a metaphorical name for
the realism of idealities.
From the cave to the outside, the scenography changes in favor of
an ichnography: the shadow of the solids used to play on the plane of
representation and define them by limits and cuttings-out; the light now


traverses them and chases out the interior shadow. In place of the endless
triangulation of geometry, we have the stereometry of empty forms
through the epiphany of diaphaneity.
Here is the space of pure geometry, traversed by the intuition of
transparent emptiness. Then and then only is the pyramid born, the pure
tetrahedron, the first of the five Platonic bodies.
A miracle, here is the Sun in the pyramid: the site, the source, the object
are united in the same place.

The tomb’s black box, on the side of nomos or religious customs and civil
laws regarding the subject of death, becomes a white box on the side of
phusis, under the brightness of the sun.

The third shadow, the second epiphany:
White boxes
Just as the light used to slide along the adamantine focus, the radial
straight line and the plane that’s so brilliant that epiphany has, from the
Pythagoreans all the way to Euclid, designated the surface, perceived as
sparkling, so under the new Sun, solids no longer contain either shadow or
secret; the same brightness traverses them, passes through them without
interception: they now constitute a real world that’s thoroughly knowable.
One can understand the importance constantly given by Plato and his
school to the stereometry of volumes.
The hesitant percolation of the infinite explications, of the exhausting
explicitations of folds [plis] closed without recourse, ends with this coup
de force, with a flash of lightning that tears open the veils of shadow and
whose sudden light excludes all darkness. No more spectrum or analysis,
the three shadows—shaded surface, cast, buried—are abducted at the same
time by the Sun of the Good. Starting from this authentic miracle—the
appearance of these forms said to be transcendent, of these boxes, white
and empty, and lastly without obstacles due to the definitive expulsion of
the shadows—the new never-ending discourse of the grand narrative of
Geometry shoots forth from this source-basin.
And, as though to complete the circle, in all rigor and for the coherence
of global history, the Timaeus will constitute the world by means of the five
Platonic bodies, transparent and white: geometricized, the global Earth
becomes, integrally, a white box. Geometry is finally well-named.
All the little streams and threads, pursued up to here, flow into the
source, marked by this white, empty and translucent basin, above the
threshold of percolation.


The first body, the simplest, precisely the tetrahedron, designates fire.
Greekness has the pure pyramid be born beneath the furnace of the Sun,
and from this tetrahedron has fire be born again. Heraclitus the physicist’s
A double miracle that completes the writings, the Egyptian legend and
the initiation of intuition by placing the light source inside the very heart
of the polyhedron. When the pyramid is itself fire—did its name influence
its legend?—the Sun traverses it.

Mysticism plus physics equals geometry
This entire origin narrative, from Thales up to the Republic, is immersed in
a vision or dramatizes a rite of fire. The new geometer no longer perceives
any shadow under the combined furnace of the pure form and the solar
hearth: the original twinship of mathematical stereometry, of elementary
physics and religious enthusiasm, the blinding atmosphere of the first
philosophies of intuition.
The kernel of knowledge is ceaselessly enveloped by myth, whose
narrative never ceases combining with the theater of representation:
theory, vision, light, fire.
A new genesis with several branches, in which, like two tributaries, the
natural technologies and the history of religion mix, astronomy and optics,
metric, architecture and cutting stones, solar devotion, in order to free the
objects from their dark obstacles.
Nomos and phusis are tied together in and through the process of
exclusion, common to the two gestures.

Black and white7
In traversing the solid, light announces and produces a history, that of the
first geometry.
But the future of the square and the diagonal will be decided just as
much on the sand in which we describe them and across the language that
codes them as in the white sky of the forms.
The realism of transparent idealities is still bathed in a philosophy of
representation. Of course, the ichnography there substitutes for diverse
scenographies, but it remains a trans-representation with a divine point of
view. For having gone beyond Thales’ theater, the theater without shadow
hasn’t yet closed the stage. However pure and abstract it may be conceived,
the idea isn’t differentiated from the idol. The inevitable realism remains
an idealism.


dense. seen and known without remainder. when no one is able to found on intuition any longer. Full of shadow. models of simple ideas. the pure or abstract idealities become dark again like the Pyramids. compact … will soon teem anew with folds and black hiding places. transparent to sight as to thought. Answering and freeing itself from this question is never-ending for it. intuition traverses it. equipotent to the whole of mathematics. it doesn’t conceal anything that exceeds the definition that can be thought about it. the history of the mathematical sciences resolves the question of origin without exhausting it. theoretical unknowns. The realism of idealities grows heavy and takes on again a compactness that the Platonic sun had dissolved. their intervals and regions. explosions continuing throughout history. From these never-ceasing streaks of shadows. FIRST IN HISTORY: THALES   113 . the pure and abstract forms. the implication are going to explode anew among these abstract forms. theoretically known through and through. as the theater of representation closes little by little. As this so pure geometry dies. and like them create shadow. Shadows still The straight line. chaotic. but become infinitely replicated objective. the shadow. Neither that simple nor that pure. The inauguration narrative evokes this interminable discourse which we have been uninterruptedly holding since our own dawn. Existing in itself nonetheless. in-stances highly inaccessible like tasks that surpass us. the plane. A new way to re-listen to the old Egyptian legend and metric of Thales. The geometrical form clearly says this difficulty: prejudged to be without shadow or secret. this form conceals obstacles that surpass thought enough to require it to bend. the secret. dazzled by its existence. our stone block constructions and wrought objects. existing as ideality. new lights and other interminable discourses shot out all throughout history. Form hides beneath its form transfinite kernels about which we begin fear that history isn’t sufficient to exhaust them. are no longer known and seen without remainders. enormous virtualities of noemata. to the eyes of the astonished mathematicians. like the stones and objects of the world. the volume. Our origin Thus. from which an endless discourse was formerly born shooting out from transparent white boxes.

an Athenian philosopher. love. and geometry. but nonetheless to the same end: the constitution of a similar white box. and geometry. beautiful. 114   GEOMETRY . just as those that recount the life of the cynic moralist traverse the social practices and human knowledge on the other shore of the Aegean Sea. twenty-five centuries ago. he has abandoned everything. sometimes … … God. and dirty. for a result shifted from the preceding ones the way the sciences of society differ from those of the world. The stories that focus on the Ionian physicist run through the hard technologies and the knowledge of nature. in the middle of this passage from the East to the West? This knot. is going to expressly put himself in the same position as him. He lives like a dog. adored be his name and his son. silent. love. he pees and fornicates before everyone’s eyes. an object that comes but that inacces- sibly goes absent. crouched in his barrel. Must we rethink its origin by reknotting strands that are foreign to each other. God. from what Plutarch says. From Diogenes to Thales: The ethical origin It is said that you don’t like kings More than a century after Thales. bathing with its new light the intelligence of Thales in Miletus. in its lost paradise. Diogenes. globally speaking. in a similar diagram of sun and shadows. a sage and a bum. Revealed but veiled to the patriarch Abraham at Ur in Chaldea four thousand years ago. draw from us an irrepressible torrent of gestures and discourses. what is an interminable discourse? One that relates an object that’s present but concealed. and ours. who came and is to come. dignitary or effigy. blessed may it be. barks at whoever goes by. occurring with the Occitan troubadours in southern France seven hundred years ago. from which we are continually born better. rich or poor. ending. composes this book but also constitutes its local parts. strong or weak. Ionia. because they infinitely withdraw their presence. By the way. eats with his hands or right from the ground what falls. naked. ending in the schema of geometry. among the refuse. Diogenes is there. in politics and morality or his relation to kings.

Crouched before the barrel. wets his hand. jug or bowl immediately the opacity of the wall is seen. before his barrel. drinks several times from the palm of his hand. Don’t listen to those others when they say that they doubt. they talk. without illusion. it’s worth a price. for the possession of the hanap. Diogenes is warming himself in the sun. With a flash of laughter in his eyes. breaks it. leans over the fountain basin. escapes the viscous relations. why this useless or dangerous intermediary? Rare in my hand and on my lips. Should it remain for a time in a vase. he’s cold and watches. out of breath. suffer. an unembellished discourse. alone. wanders outside along the paths and public squares. has tossed jacket and shoes into the fire. Liquid or elementary. The origin of the object There. silver or crystal. he will soon repeat Thales’ drama. they have abandoned neither coat. rolling his barrel. the water of thirst and rejoicing remains transparent and white. the water vanishes. a sacred chalice. nothing more than the vase is seen: made of stone or clay. A boy passes. nor petty power nor their mediocre glory. Naked like Francis of Assisi. A new elementary ensign of fire: the Cynic during the dog days. is acquired at the point of a weapon. in comparison. they copy out rewritten sheets. eats what’s thrown to him. dodges between the skirts. alone. naked. non-holy. doesn’t possess any gold or value and has abandoned all place. letting her beautiful vase be seen. gets cold and keeps silent. when it’s sunny: facing the elementary fire. removes the loose garment. when it’s sunny. running. Diogenes stretches his arm to the bottom of the barrel. perhaps he has loved the world. So Diogenes abandons the bowl in favor of the water. the water. Diogenes doubts everything. They say that they think and do nothing but speak. their arrogance of power or their race to the most precious. We shall soon fight. He has loved peace to the point of risking dying for it because every place in the social body. nor money. not far from the public fountain. Since the boy drank from his hand without any need for any bowl. Believe Diogenes more than anyone else who talks about radical doubt. He has lowered his weapons and cherished peace. Between the mouth and the water. He leaves the hard house. reduces everything to what is. no matter how cramped. FIRST IN HISTORY: THALES   115 . And when they talk about Cynicism. Each one carries her jug. the women draw water. the water no longer has any value: the vase. He has no room or stove. pulls out his bowl. Diogenes the bum is hungry like him. he has just taught the dog that the dog was still living in luxury. It condenses men’s hatred. facing the sun.

If the bowl is a chalice and the coat a pallium. becomes extinguished with them. without any interception. adored. the coat can be sold. these exchanges. let his coat fall. moved forward naked into the esplanade. Immediate application to the problem of origin: there can be no geometry without an overlapping of nature and culture. faced the statue and embraced it. if the vase is the Grail and the cloth the veil of Tanit. do you get cold? On one harsh winter evening. Diogenes has left the combat in favor of life. to combat once again. which are born. selling and buying. There is no collective without a thing Every object presupposes relations among ourselves. the dog breaks the bowl. to exchange them. that it can also be made to be rare in order to sell. he kissed the naked statue. name or qualify it? “Is there a single object for a single man” is a question. varies. free of charge or for money. which leave him. would a single human group exist. from his barrel. hardly to enjoy them. Naked. He abandons objects. blessed. We fight each other to possess them. fought for. Conversely. become extinguished with it. The fortunate man doesn’t know that water can be worshiped. The object exists. There are no things without these collective relations. One never detaches from anything but comparison. Would an object even exist without a group in order to recognize it. Does he even need a coat? Living alone. when the children had sculpted a snow statue in the public square. would a single agreement between these men occur without the prelim- inary condition that an object existed for them? There is no thing without a collective. has abandoned exchange. no collective without a thing. An entirely transparent and white scene. harm. from which comes all the evil in the world. The bowl can be given away. he got up. holy. Diogenes has abandoned everything. no objects without these battles. but he has left comparison itself. we bow down before these things. gifts. the way he had drunk the naked water with his naked hand. these things are exchanged. 116   GEOMETRY . sun. He has discovered at least two objects: fire. make it. Here he is already on the Ionian physicists’ path to the originary source. value. Water and snow. vary. and water. gray. Alone. facing the sun without intermediary. another element. a phantom. he is not poor if rich and poor are compared. this veneration. He gives up the things that form a screen to the things of the world.

the things are mutated into merchandise by exchange. at the stock exchange. The procession—horses. nor the merchandise for an economy? A question at once posed to every human knowledge and practice. Before the marble of the tabernacles or in the Ark of the Covenant. squatting. authen- tically thrown in front. In the middle of the dust of combat. the answer to which would nullify the first part of this book if this first part did without the second. fetishes designated for veneration. troop and pomp. cuirasses. supposing they had ever appeared: they have become the stakes of struggles. an object. haggard. At the bank. giving spice to our relations. Power and empire offer the dog. Wandering in the public square. at the same time as the unfindable man. stops with his retinue. true. Pacified. for a man. merchandise: Non-objects Under the fury of the battle. the lost object? His personal light in hand. Diogenes was searching.” Greatness apostrophizes ignominy. display—makes a clatter upon stopping. in the circuits of exchange. stakes. from high. fetishes. Diogenes the Cynic has abandoned this price and spice. merchandise for exchange. showing the zero of custom on the nudity of his skin. This is giving a price to things. on the altars of adoration. Alexander the Great passes by in sight of the barrel. Motionless. nor the fetish of a religion. in the filth. the things transform and become stakes. at the supermarket. wandering in the streets. alone before his barrel. purple. the things transubstantiate into fetishes.Tools. The origin or condition for research Objects have just disappeared. here is the ancestor of the scientific researcher. he meditates and asks: can we invent relations other than struggle. at the street stalls. FIRST IN HISTORY: THALES   117 . Thales revisited He is there in the public square. alone. in the market at Les Halles. it is said. Was he seeking. a lit lantern in hand in the middle of the day. in rags. other than exchange and worship? Can I lay my hands on or look at a thing. and which is not the stake of history. “What do you want? What do you desire? My glory and power have the capability to give anything. meditating. everything a dog is hungry for. objects are not objects.

that major object of all knowledge: the sun. most high. “At present. today the wealthiest in the comparison of market value. that is to say. by the animal hierarchy—equine.” Remove: here again is a verb of exclusion. for tomorrow. Not by some prince particularly. A parasite passes by and places himself between the subject. dominant. At present. There is Diogenes plunged in the drawing of the shadow. for example me. the worthiest fetish. the King. in my body. an interrupter. but I know now that a dark shadow has suddenly made my old bones cold. naked. equipped with its maxima. Alexander passes and stops for a moment. imitation. from the warm presence of the sun. Shadow is always projected by the Great. but by the ladder or scale of height itself. and the object. by he who is now the strongest in the relations of force. remove yourself from my sun. the one who sets the prices is seen there. Between attention and an object of the world. canine—of struggle.” Diogenes answers. so great that he makes all the shadow. 118   GEOMETRY . I throw it away in order to embrace the snow. Alexander: a screen. I break it in order to touch the water with my palm and my teeth. The one who dazzles and prohibits intuition. always comes and slips in. there is my coat. Only the master of the stakes. who was warming himself in the sun. Leave. race. who darkens or removes knowledge is never anyone but the prince or the first. I’m chasing you away. cast beneath power and glory. major. remove yourself from my sun. so elevated that I always live in his shadow. and here. Between my body and the sun. “I don’t know what I desire. Between my skin and the snow statue. his shadow veiling the star of fire: remove yourself from my sun. Alexander. Between my mouth and the water. bowl. exchange and prosternation. in this case. at this moment the worthiest of veneration. of value and of prosternation. not specifically Alexander the Great. Alexander. coat. Whoever tries to think or see an object always lives in the shadow that’s always projected by what’s higher than his barrel. there is a bowl. New solar diagram Baseness’s second meditation. Alexander passes. competition and rivalry. in my head. seized in the sketch of geometry. Between the dog and the sun. Remove your shadow. Alexander. an interceptor. The solar drawing calculates a maximum.

quilted housecoat. between my mouth and the water. Diogenes abandons it. merchandise. total to the point of drowning. The transparent water has no odor or taste. And if he’s the greatest there isn’t any place or time in which he doesn’t intervene. chalice.8 Interest resides between me and I know not what. the young hero of the conquests that we learn about while intoxicated with fascination before the size of the empires. Perched on his horse between Diogenes and the sun. now interesting. Alexander intervenes. the coat is interesting. It will be said of it what Plutarch wrote about Thales. let’s again define culture as the set of adjuvants that allow escape from comparison. he asks the king to let the ray of sun directly flood him with warmth and light. Who is Alexander? The most interesting person in the world. interesting. all the greater for intervening everywhere. The plunging into shadow faithfully sketches the immersion. We are only interested in these prices: in the stakes for the heated struggles. that he or it doesn’t like kings. but attentive to the others and to the greatest among the others. There. Not so fast. depending. sickened by competition. the cold white snow has no color. Is Diogenes freezing in the social sciences? How do we free ourselves from nomos. engraved on coins. abandons the interesting objects. in the laws of the collective. This holiness laughs at hierarchy. it watches the barbarians play mortal games of competition. in its barrel. What is interest? Our wise language says it plainly: what resides between [entre]. Neither the snow nor the water changes? The words that fly or sleep between us are interesting. fetishes. so as to go towards phusis? Position and preposition: Between Crouched in Alexander’s shadow. Diogenes throws away the coat. pitiful. custom or law. floating between the snow and my skin. And asks the king to move away from his sun. potsherd. Diogenes seems to be prostrated before the Great Fetish. As a condition for knowledge. in the merchandise of the movement of exchange. imprinted. from glory. So power is the most interesting thing there is. in the fetishes of humiliated respect. FIRST IN HISTORY: THALES   119 . keeps silent. as indifferent to power. breaks the bowl. They no longer see the things. This is what gives their value to things. situated in the interval. and this ordinary sun shines for everyone. see nothing but stakes. The bowl is interesting. chasuble. hanap. precious vase. don’t know them nor derive any fruit from them.

beneath the shadow of the king. the sun behind his back. to expel every parasitical obstacle. the things that let all the other things be known: water. understand by theorem what allows seeing. Alexander stands upright. this is the source. the hard sciences and the social sciences. Culture. the dazzling star that is Alexander-the-Law becomes Heraclitus the physicist’s fire. he bridges intervals. everything flows. as if the king’s body were descending into the tomb. He is quite exactly disinterested. The condition for every discovery therefore contrasts: connection or opposition. tries. inventions would rain down upon our world. Thales … did they invent geometry because their wisdom—or their saintliness—made them physicists? The origin of invention Diogenes tries to erase. He invents the fundamental theorem of knowledge. the clothes of habit for science. Diogenes’ water. together claim that what has real interest has no interest. with his voice. in the above sense. Drunk directly without any bowl. to exclude mediations. to remove. with abundance and grace. custom for nature. When the obstacles are lifted. the Great Pyramid of Egypt for example.From the sun of the law to physical fire Beneath the flashing of the sun. If the people of culture and of science were no longer interested in anything but what has no interest. seen without any mediation in pure nature. Gratuitously. Anaximander. Physics resides outside the law. Anaximenes. Death and the burial of the parasites Diogenes lies there. and this latter says: the things to be seen. Consequently. without drying up. is found outside social relations. the physical element. which explains the world. Diogenes has laid greatness to rest. in the sense of interception. frozen in the snow touched without any coat. a pure and simple element. fire … are uninteresting. extin- guishes media. to be known. as if he seemed to see a tomb standing instead of the king. 120   GEOMETRY . Diogenes abandons nomos for phusis. becomes Thales the Ionian physicist’s water. the knowledge that ensues from it. with his hand.

the first exact space: the originary representation of science. and the dog. which. freed from mimesis and therefore capable of knowing it. without adoration. Knowledge is without greatness. let the sun climb just above the summit of the tomb of kings. intuition. embalmed. the first-principle discovery of the theory of knowledge: remove yourself from my sun. In the same scene. let me forget your greatness and power. a statue in its coffer. Diogenes’ theorem. Invention. merchandise. Alexander descends into the tomb. the third excluded from the same drawing by Thales. a stake. his values. makes Thales possible. both straight. without value. on the day and in the place where Thales.which. Remove yourself from my sun so it can become fire. the merchandise. at the summit of the perfect polyhedron. saw the sun pass above the tomb and trace on the sand this very first theorem of similar forms that are stable across variance of size. stakes. rising behind the mausoleum. without gold. It is born of the sun. Alexander descends into the tomb. Without Alexander. Rising behind the pyramidal tomb. reads the first invented rigor on the sand. The sun shines behind the Pyramid as though intercepted by the dead Alexander’s body. Diogenes. the fetishes. proves Diogenes. the mummy is itself a fetish. How are we to recognize the cynic Diogenes. the first discovery of geometry. its condition. the sun moves away from it. buried forever. technologies. statues. weighing on the mummy of Pharaoh the Great. discovery. let him move away from the light and the gaze. very light all of them. geometry is born on the sunlit earth. the other. become wise. without conquest. and the dog remains in shadow. the stakes. there. Alexander imitates Pharaoh. dazzled and transformed by the sun? The scene remains the same but changes into the early scene of geometry. traces theorems and graphes on the sand. the first merchandise. locked up. science takes its sunbath. Thales and Diogenes invent. Let the king move a little. from the two excluded thirds. From the king’s cadaver. without incense. are born. the one the theorem. the first FIRST IN HISTORY: THALES   121 . The third excluded from Diogenes’ schema. piercing through at the point. The double origin Let greatness intervene before the sun. and I see the object as a sun. take place without force. from the Pharaoh’s mummy. here. at first. contains and conceals. Maybe without place. Thales. The first statue. fetishes. without power. and the fire floods me with warmth free of charge. deadly weapons.

Everywhere else the gods covered the places over. in order to enter into the sun of knowledge. The closing of the tomb was necessary to see the sun. power covers it over with shadow. invent geometry. a common phenomenon. flooding Thales. the fetish transubstantiates it. Of course 122   GEOMETRY . We must forget the cadaver that lies between us. forget the fetish. the object will irresistibly return. it plunges into the learned collective and even constitutes it. chased out of the market. protected them. scorned enough to be a godless place. in order to subsist. Abandon the stakes and the idols. excluded from the stakes. That was regarding fetishes and gods. prevented the local objects from being seen. nor perhaps pedagogy. the grand discussions in the agora. so as to become in turn a stake. They finally laid their hands upon a place without place. in the midst of us. out of the competitions and temples. The origin of knowledge: The authentic cynics Some anonymous Greek ancestors. that was regarding stakes and kings. a space that would be everywhere absent. which does not stink. This tear in space was as improbable as the very space of geometry. Now this is regarding merchandise and the despots of money: on the day when the social bond frees itself a little from the general equivalent representing every possession. upon that perfect utopia outside the world.value. accumulation and copy. or merchandise … The origin of physics Auguste Comte elsewhere intelligently said that no god of gravity was ever seen at any latitude. fetish. and like a sun. whose absence gave us the abstract sciences and those of nature. Yet physics will be born precisely from the fall of bodies. the first gold: primordial money. that of the king. must have blindly sought. Great inventions will begin. The stake covers the object over. populated with impossible objects. as soon as the new object occurs. Abandon the cadaver. the social sciences hadn’t been born. from the motion of heavy bodies. Of course. the pure space of abstract rigor. Geometry is born in the space outside the king’s shadow. expelled from the categories. mechanics in a rare gap in the grip of the fetishes. will we discover a new knowledge trans- iting between us? Before having handled this new quasi-object. his power. without which knowledge would be nothing but derisory. rise.

was already forgotten. and yet Khufu’s tomb maximized all the data: religion and law. weapons and fortune. and yet we know nothing of the world without it and without them. whose trace can be lost without FIRST IN HISTORY: THALES   123 . The application of Diogenes to Thales Did Thales come to the foot of the Pyramids to assess the conditions for long duration? What must be done to remain? War. the pharaoh. felt. outside the reach of power and glory. they’ve even been chased from posthumous glory. This utopia adds up the white boxes. tyranny. And for having been detached even from this glory. politics and strategy. slavery. heard or tasted this strange non. the lightest. And yet these anonymous Greek ancestors saw it. the entire world being excluded from it. The gigantic mass of stones crumbles or becomes covered over with sand at the mercy of the winds. power and wealth. whose writing has no importance. If someone seeks a space or an object outside the grip of the tomb. The hardest doesn’t last. from apotheosis. what will become of pure form? Of the most vanishing image. that he won’t find a world that doesn’t exist. the least sayable possible. All materials and powers wear out. touched. whose stone blocks Bonaparte calculated could surround France with a high and continuous wall. amid the infinite of an apeiron. And since they’re still anonymous. Just as other cultures played. you will say about him. And this was the birth of long-term knowledge. if someone seeks a place without stakes. in order to last. The volume. everything stops and becomes erased at some moment. and the objects of the world are gathered in it. if he seeks a utopia. What empire will manage to do so? During Thales’ time.sensible space. And we have never known anything except thanks to this space. they laid their hands upon this world that’s conditional for one has ever seen. They saw it. competition. the deadly game of the strongest. that no one has ever seen the space in which the things themselves are abstractly gathered. no one has ever had any experience of the strange objects that populate this space. without fetishes. doesn’t attain long duration. not the victor but the victim. without merchandise. no one has ever lived in a social place without any exclusion. the least concrete. doubly dead. The strongest is never strong enough to master time. a ridiculous searcher. so Thales inverted the hardest’s game: only the softest endures. It is pure utopia. and we’ve seen it through them and thanks to them.

Thales states the invariance of the same form across variation of size. rare because the most improbable. it will remain despite every nullification. in relation to the time that passes. Even its concept can waver without much damage: we no longer understand the same reason or the same similarity. A miracle. as well as the omnipotence. whose very memory can pass away or die without any consequences for its stable history? If you schematize it falsely. that of Mathematics. His theorem therefore entails the infinite progression or regression of size in the preservation of the same relation. Thales shows the extraordinary weakness of the heaviest material or hardware ever prepared in the history of men and nations. from the colossal—the pyramid—to the mediocre—stake or body—and so on as much as you please. as though each one nullified the meaning of the other. so that that only their pure and simple relation remains. 124   GEOMETRY . Let a displacement of the pyramid into the space of homothety remain. no longer as speech or saying but. to the smallest: what scorn for height and strength. burn partial manuscripts or entire libraries. even softer because the terms of the analogy balance each other. it’s still of no matter. By relating the tomb’s shadow to the reference post or to his own shadow.harming the meaning. what erasure of every scale or hierarchy. its import. If you don’t draw it. yet nothing notably changes. of a certain software [logiciel]: of the logos itself on condition of redefining it. The rarest information. in lightening it. a theorem as fleeting and soft as a ray of Sun equipped with its shadows. it doesn’t matter. do away with the monuments. now derisory since each stage repeats the same logos or relation without any change! Indeed. which laughs at history without henceforth knowing decline. Even measurement is forgotten in the new logos of similarity where a relation between small things equals another relation between large ones. Plutarch rightly wrote that you didn’t like kings. don’t even write it. erase almost entirely the period during which this form came to light. More or worse: if you destroy sources and testimonies. Thales draws minimal softness or lightness. because the one is erased by the other. the common form of the statement. invariant as soon as it entered into rigor. as same relation. We are scarcely beginning to assess such an economy. and the pyramid will finally fill the dimension of time. From the maximal remains of the maximal power of optimally preserved history. this horn of plenty that provides infinitely from almost nothing. present in our forgettings. what it states. truly: from almost nil means the longest of possible empires is born. lies at the sources of the irrepressibly interminable discourse. what esteem for smallness.

transform it through work. on the side of nature. for a piece of naivety. the real has never been anything but this world. concrete. But if it doesn’t explain. What this first geometry invents is not of this world. Nothing in the senses passes on to the understanding. fragile. outside normal science. in his language. even if it is fringed with sleep and dreams. on the side of custom and law: no points. A real world exists for the groups of the awakened. likewise no proof or univocity in what is said or in what circulates between us. solid.On invention. Outside these collective spaces wander the banished. Mimesis seems to be in check. outside the closed system in general … Outside the closed. in brief. neither of the objective world. the anomaly. outside the common and coded language. it’s very commonly said: but where then did he go to look for that? Nothing here resembles it. so much does his discovery not imitate anything else. outside the education given in the supposedly superior schools. This is the maximal exteriority. even if it is plunged in madness and beauty. On the other world as the limit sum for every outside So here is the fulgurant flash. which surely all the others will only be varieties of. by exclusion or for desecration. a prison. straight lines. again About the inventor and what he discovered. Thales. So where? Outside. the Greek miracle. almost three millennia ago. we endure it and enjoy it. or on the side of the social sciences. I experience what a closed system is in physics. outside the law. we draw it with our gestures. Pythagoras or no matter which of these first names for history or legend suddenly places himself outside this world. floating. dream it and fantasize about it through myth and pathos. nor of the universe of discourse. at least designate it thereby. outside the real. the great start. Where? An entirely simple naivety repeated by the scientific models. politeness. Plato didn’t say anything else. the closed network of opinions. the invention of geometry. a school or a private yard. precise and blurred. an asylum. resistant or without hold. But cultural or categorial space? Comparison closes it. But outside what? Outside here: outside the ordinary group normed by custom and law. this tautology isn’t a bad image. signify it through language. at least it describes: outside the ordinary. Or rather. We all perceive this world by the sensory terminals and the skin. and we’re saying FIRST IN HISTORY: THALES   125 . outside the walls. the police. angles or triangles here. What does this outside signify? I see. the radical utopia. a convent.

he comes to us from outside the enclosure. had already suddenly radicalized our schemas. from there he restructures the normal set in crisis as newness. forsaken. persuaded we’re claiming something entirely different. the invariants then stabilize these variations. On exclusion. Consequently. shot through as it is with the relativist whirlwind and the discursive contradictions of perceptual judgment. It secondly answers. leads to critique. the origins of the first geometry answer the indispensable criteria well—the criterion of exteriority first. Then the criterion of crisis: this world never ceases to be in crisis. Where would you have this outside be if not at the limit. at the borders of this world taken in general? The invention of mathematics here is the absolute invention. where he was abandoned. men and things. as though it couldn’t exist without it. repudiated. The outside then is the elsewhere absolutely speaking: odorless. The noetic or intelligible site is separated as though by an ax from space or the sensible world. the normal. non-sensible. Mathematical formalities are non-existent and non-constructible: every 126   GEOMETRY . And no one will ever come out of crisis or critique except by leaving the world and language. the criterion of improbability. The first of the miracles thus traverses the model called Kuhnian—that is to say. and in a radical. the worn out usual or the ordinary in crisis is the world as such. Listen now with a new ear to the historians of the invention: the innovator places himself outside. intangible. languages and objects mixed up. primary. The distance between the two discourses is nil. as though they distributed in time the small change of the Platonic discourse. in whatever way you set about it. the first invention of science. Come from outside. unsurpassable way. again Everything happens as though the Greek miracle. endlessly relative and always transformed. such and such a state of affairs will be considered to be invariant across variations. the rending of history.the same thing. And the concept becomes sayable. colorless. not only through technology but through the founding act of the positive model for every invention in general: the intelligible world installs the foreignness of exclusion forever. normal to the point of banality in the history of science—to its maximum reach: the closed. unheard. the discovery that has made all the others possible. language. and the latter nonetheless participates in the former. the paradigm. and in a radical way.

wait for darkness. from another world so radically that every other invention only occurs by repeating this double labor. and can comprehend each other. It is even demonstrably impossible. it shines inside itself. rarely light the lamp. In its totality. the one that dominates our customs. It is absolutely improbable that I might one day draw a straight line. from its power and glory. doesn’t only come from the sun. the light that chases out the shadow from every pure space. For the first time. My shadow body knows. Catastrophe: nature reintegrates custom. light—crude. The night shines like a black diamond. their tranquility. From the viewpoint of public language the necessity obtained by proof is absolutely improbable. Electric or collective. cynically.time I draw them on the sand or the wax table I truly leave geometry. you might think it knows FIRST IN HISTORY: THALES   127 . this will never happen. Yet it happened in Greece during those times. science emerges. something everyone agrees is the height of the unthinkable. it slips among them. often brilliance pollutes what darkness allows to live. delight in twilights. The light the tetrahedron is penetrated with. two men can finally understand each other. since the same light shines at night. how to evaluate the shadows. and takes away mine. The whole of the body sees the close proximity of things. enters their silence. on the side of nature. in the sun of domination. through language. their massive nocturnal presence. aggressive. sometimes cruel— wounds. This doesn’t happen. of itself. through proof. the language used by proof planes down the polysemy which we know even more is the flesh of words. Every bright light tears them from this peace. beneath the clouds of the day. So return to nature: The perceptive origin So a return to the shadows. improbable. a theatrical lust impel this dog to such deceit? He warms himself. The sudden collapse toward custom Did Diogenes betray our good faith? Why did his little barreled dwelling never leave the agora? Why didn’t he roll it to some natural desert to become a hermit or anchorite? Did he prepare those duels at the crossroads? Did he hope to confront Alexander before his fellow citizens so as to attain the greatest historical glory … and at the least cost? Did the attraction of public exhibition. hence let darkness come. saturated to bursting with information. to escape the worst cynicism.

Fog multiplies the veils. Technological prostheses date from a time so recent in history that our humiliated bones become excited from playing their age-old musical score again. Living by feeling one’s way exercises the touch marvelously. So remarkable is the black night that almost anything can be done without the least bit of added light. rare fragrances. which. the shoulders. the shoulders brush the branches. our cutaneous robe sing with jubilation when we throw away our wooden legs. The sole of the foot begins to know better. the epidermis is busy then resisting its compresses: impression weakens under compression. the entire skin lives. sensory or motor crutches. loves the little percep- tions at the bottom of the scale: tenuous calls. it excites its sensitivity. Night and fog Night doesn’t anesthetize the skin. the night. the stone of the ditch radiates peacefully. soaks into it. Writing requires light. even walking in the middle of a sunken lane without any moon. by strata. as soon as it is replaced or extended. Our technologies are often as good as an orthopedics for a healthy limb. Let’s preserve what augments us and scorn what diminishes us. anything can be done without light. What wanders in the penumbra and muteness helps it to rediscover the ancient practices deposited in its forgetfulnesses and habits. Fog tears our eyes away from help. Feeling one’s way loses the freedom to help the hesitant gaze. reading requires brightness. preferring them to what thunders. again But the world offers nothing but the night or the shadow to thwart the skillfulness of the attentive one. Darkness may envelope us. as the theory goes.them. The anxiety fog plunges us into doesn’t only come from blindness. How does a veil cover over the things? Shadow awakens the limbs. falls sick or powerless. across the arms. place by place. They excite the most sensitive attention. it wraps us in bands or armors us. thighs. even reveal sensitivity. Yes. 128   GEOMETRY . stomach and back. but it doesn’t attack the skin the way fog does. we have only ever seen a single one. but from the fact that it drags. Veils: Seeing and touching. Living contents itself with shadow. lights or cars. our tendons and muscles. But fog puts the body to sleep. except writing. whose envelope of skin—intensely present when sight becomes veiled— runs of itself to the rescue of the eyes. imperceptible shades. The body rises to look for the route in the midst of the darkness. anesthetizes it. It crawls and licks.

its extension and empire. thick. viscous. fills the folds. or vessels getting lost due to the unreasonable orders coming from the officer of the watch panicked by the fog. accumulates (dense. concerns the continuous or torn-up space of touch. Shadow leaves everything invariant. but you lose the sense of size. by open or closed intervals. fog makes everything variable. topology Darkness concerns optical space and preserves a Euclidean volume: shadow like the light remains in the order of the usual or metric geometry. Thus shadow preserves the lines of the world. fog continuously transforms them through homeomorphism. it lets the little light that remains show through. You retain the tactile certainty of being situated between the captain and the lookout on the open bridge saturated with pea soup. Aircraft have been seen leaving clouds flying upside down. applies or glues itself to flat or warped surfaces. local fog. beneath an overwhelming light or a night empty enough for you to think FIRST IN HISTORY: THALES   129 . The night at once shoots far and leaves the volume empty. aerial darkness. rarefies (light). Geometry. under a single curtain. losing distances. filling or skirting the vicinities. measures and identities. Empty or hollow night. liquid. the form of their profile. layered. who were born there. Global shadow. fog occupies the topological varieties. the way we say phantom limbs. The latter occupies the power of touch. compact). right-left and up-down. sticky. place by place. This is an entirely different world from the one described by Thales’ homothety. Fog removes the landmarks and the relations that our skin maintains with the neighboring volumes. the fog crawls and insinuates itself and propagates or extends itself slowly. invades places cranny by cranny or space place by place. and preserves the distri- bution of the large masses all around. gaseous. plates by plates. and some always does remain. South and north Dry Greece remains the kingdom of geometers. invades by shreds the vicinal. quite stable trihedron that traverses and orients us. your feet like their bodies vanish into incalculable distances. quasi solid fog. continuously and with or without tear. full fog. phantom neighbors. vanishes like vapor. The darkness leaves invariant the large. You need to have passed through a bank so thick you lose the neighbor you’re nevertheless touching with your elbow to learn that you even lose your confidence in the most certain instruments there.

From the sun to the earth: The astronomical origin The Pyramid measured by Thales serves as a gnomon. its fidelity. the entire milieu loses its invariance. being or non-being. questions then of latitude? Nature and culture encounter each other along numerous looping routes. Does the entire adventure then begin with astronomy? How did they observe the sky in Antiquity? The needle of the sundial projects its shadow on the ground or the reading plane according to the positions of the stars and the Sun over the course of the year. a rendible cloth or veil followed by a thousand different other ones. what covers and what is sufficed to lift a veil for the truth to appear. the Atlantic bears fog banks as tall as cliffs with yellowish interiors. 130   GEOMETRY . you have to go beyond the Pillars of Hercules. to get some idea of it. Since Anaximander. the northern fogs trouble ontology. it is said. Fog betrays. Optics also begins in these sites. we don’t reach a decision. The light come from above writes on the ground or the page a drawing whose appearance imitates or represents the places of the Universe through the intermediary of the stylus’s point. It is understood that the mosaic thus drawn has to wait for some white box for flowing to begin. The southern night disquiets phenomenology. Night does not betray. fog resembles at the same time a medium and objects. in any case accessible through touch. just like the Baltic Sea or others in the northern latitudes. Wet. where everything is known through distance and measurement. objects or vapors. Greek physicists have known how to recognize a few events of the world on these projec- tions. fog blurs it. The skin presses against a perfidious pillowcase. itself deformable. Topology would never have come out of Egypt or Ionia. its reliability. veiled or not. dazzling. whose gates close the Mediterranean. nor does shadow: a thing there remains a thing. visible or not. Shadow confirms the distinction of being and appearances. fills the entire milieu with possible things. Randomly filling space. Thing or veil. The double history of Hieronymus and Plutarch bears witness to such variations. an irregular rag. Countless are the veils there. amid seas in which the distances bathed with indistinct fog never assure that they submit to the same laws as proximity.

and όδός [hodos]. from which solstices. hours varied. According to a place in Herodotus repeated below. the adjective therefore designates the orbit. whose exact method infers a thousand pieces of information from the length and position of the dark trace or mark. from ζῷον [zōon]. Where should we put the head or the eye in this observatory—we asked FIRST IN HISTORY: THALES   131 . and the noun the signs of this same zodiac. used to orient the Pyramids by observing the sky. communicating with itself. each angle or segment of thirty degrees thus divides the sky into zones that the Greek language calls ζῴδιον [zōdion]. judges. equinox and place latitude for example were drawn: thus more an obser- vatory than a watch. Before the poetical or philosophical image we find the everyday act of astronomers. Does the black of the ink on the page reflect the old shadow come from the Sun via the needle of the gnomon? This point writes all by itself on the marble or the sand as though the world. way. into twelve parts from the Babylonians: did the sexagesimal numer- ation of these latter come from their division of the year into three hundred and sixty days or the converse? In brief. Again. like a ruler that allows knowing. likewise literally translates as: instrument of knowing. knew itself and thus justified the name. whatever their length might be. animal. decides. interprets or distinguishes. the route. In this optics. they knew how to construct a ruler as precise as the style that writes. it seems that the Greeks inherited this gnomon and the division of the day. The staging of the natural shadows and light takes place through the interceptions of this ruler named: apparatus of knowledge. the subject is not born Who knows? Who understands? Antiquity never wondered about this. In those times. at the invention of his theorem. gave a model of the world which would show the length of the shadow at noon on the longest and the shortest days. The Egyptians’ merkhet. the zodiac path. when he talks about knowledge. that is to say. but we aren’t unaware that this signifies: what understands. from dawn to dusk. but rather. this gnomon! Thus the sundial wasn’t used much to count hours as commonly thought. a figurine of an animal or any other living being. were invariably divided into twelve: a bad clock. The sky is populated with living forms. point by point. We don’t really know why the axis was called gnomon. or from Thales. Climbing back up from the shadows to the light that induces them and from this light to its single source is a lesson from Plato. since the days of summer or winter. qua an authentic instrument of scientific research.

standing. life. observe. immense. controlled by a stage manager. The world is applied to itself. For the later use of the astronomical telescope presupposes that the subject had been invented. fate and the group are immersed in the expanse or in the world from which they aren’t distinguished. Knowledge lies amid exterior space and its bright or dark events. we find lessons common to Greek astronomy. whole. innermost. it turns inside out like the finger of a glove or a simple optical schema and plunges into the utopia of a knowing subject. the nascent geometry and the Platonic theory of knowledge. who was going to place himself on the right side of the viewfinder in order to contemplate. That the tool that permits this operation is called a gnomon in the first of the list is what aids us in boldly placing the active center of knowing outside of us. remains the seat of knowing. who then carries on their back the wooden or stone statues of animals on the highly placed path of the zodiac so that they can be projected. intercepts the Sun’s light. seated scribes stylus in hand. even when it disappears at night. yes. destroy what we know. we also create shadow.—in the patch of shade. the firmament is populated with living forms. If the light comes from the Sun. the world as such was filled with knowledge the way it is said the heavens sing the glory of God. but 132   GEOMETRY . reflects itself in the sundial. frequenting the constellations’ studs? The Platonic cave describes the world itself. But before this absorption. order the planets: the subject doesn’t exist in the Ancient Greek language. on the dark wall of the sky. This black hole absorbs the world. at the place of the sundial’s point? These are all too modern problems. leaves traces on the sand as though it were writing on a white page. the signs of the zodiac. we also leave traces. For that culture. at the luminous source. Climbing back up from shadows to the light and from reproduced or projected images to their model. in addition. like Thales comparing his short size to the Pyramid’s long size. In those days. We are no longer able to understand this sentence. distinguishes. Modernity begins when this real world space passes for a stage and when. interior.these questions relatively recently in history. we who. the world as such. and we participate in this event neither more nor less than the stake since. the gnomon knows: discerns. or since. calculate. We will never know whether Plato first perceived the Bear or the Dog on the starry vault above his head before conceiving in his philosophy the intelligible heaven of forms preceding or conditioning the understanding of the things of the world. as does the entire body. Furthermore. understands.

and reciprocally. through them. Heath describes it as “a thing enabling something to be known. equinox. a shaft whose appropriate placement gives surprising results—latitude. In his commentary on the second definition of Euclid’s second book.” especially as Euclid. one that discerns and determines. Since the axis of the sundial stood perpendicular to its plane. in the place already indicated. in which for example a square is represented as four points. how to describe it? As an object. etc. the right angle or the plumb-line. On the contrary. called gnomon the areas of the complementary parallelograms of a given parallelogram. so much for us does a tool refer to the subject that uses it and its hand or the voluntary and finalized action for which the subject conceived and made it. Literally it signifies. without any human intervention. No one has truly seen. But where do these statues causing twinkling shadows on the dark sky come from? Machine and memory We translate the word gnomon poorly because knowledge sparkles at the point of its axis. the expression “gnomon-wise” expressed.” The proximity of these two things or their repetition has meaning: they are related to each other. Thomas L. Again. the world demonstrates knowledge. like an automaton. truly resemble constellations. in an apparently active form. tilt of the world’s axis—which it furnishes automatically. here or there. It functions all by itself. without motor subject: this is a mechanical knowledge since it intercepts a movement. but always designates an object. all by themselves. the mental activity that the word gnomon designates in Greek here refers to a machine. Let’s prefer machine here over instrument. the Scales or the Ram but quite simply a simplex: never a continuous and fuzzy image. observed or verified. The very first diagrams of arithmetic geometry.. but juxtaposed studs. Consequently. Thus. to an object that achieves one of the first instances of automatic FIRST IN HISTORY: THALES   133 . we could almost translate it as “ruler” or “framing square. such that their addition or subtraction leaves them similar to each other at the same time. In these objects. As though the celestial models remained faithful to the theory of the Pythagoreans for whom all things are numbers. that of the Sun. a framing square [équerre] shows two complementary rectangles or two complementary squares of a given square or rectangle: the French word itself seems to signify the extraction of a square or sundial [carré ou cadran]. solstice. in the places they occupy. for the archaic Greeks.we assuredly see that the appearances of the constellations reduce to sets of points.

its knowing and thinking function have nothing in common here with the roles they will take on in what we have called up to today scientific knowledge. Case of the parallelogram Case of the parallelogram Gnomon Case of the rectangle Case of the parallelogram Case of the rectangle Case of the square Case of the rectangle Case of the square knowledge in history. mnemotechny is associated with automatic knowledge. This is the memory. In Babylonian science. the automaton and the tables or the dictionaries: hardware and software. Two mathematics? All the knowledge announced by the word gnomon and accumulated around its shaft as well as all this objective and tabular knowledge are 134   GEOMETRY . well before the astronomical scene of Thales. In other words and more generally. the first machinery uniting hardware to software. The calculation of latitudes according to the shadow of the Sun at the Case solstices and of the square first mathematical link between astronomy equinoxes—the and geography—on the other hand gave rise to the establishment. of what Antiquity called the tables of chords: long lists of ratios between the measurements of the sides of right triangles and the measurements of their angles. by Ptolemy or before him by Hipparchus. The role of the subject. in which the birth of trigonometry can be read. one that can be said to be mechanical and the other which must be called mnemonic: recapitulation of the results of mechanical procedures or conditions for their continuation. an algorithmic thought always shows two components. automatic procedures of calculation and tables of measurements likewise coexisted. above was the axis: the table corresponds to the machine.

over numerous centuries. scorned: let’s dare to say it: enslaved! Thus concealed by the official Hellenic mathematics of the tradition. of an algorithmic nature. on the other. and around experiment. yet when he invented. we have by chance lived two strongly mathe- matical situations which resemble this bifurcation: the algebra said to be modern climbed back up to the rigor of axiomatic elements after the crisis of foundations and attempted a reordering through increased formalism and the use of structures. at almost the same time. in our time. he constructed a triangle and an arithmetic machine which functions quite well without these austere demands. A quick word then about this unspoken double history. for mathematics.strongly distinguished from the types of knowledge we classically group around proof or deduction. the one active. the two sciences confront each other. Place units step by step. algorithmic thought came to light again. according to the criteria of rigor and exactness. the same numbers shifted and augmented by a unit: this suffices and works very well. a status parallel to the former. on the one hand. the other one is going to endure. When Socrates dialogues with the little slave in the Meno. The ancient and the new always mix otherwise than expected. the other forgotten. but from which everything else proceeds. Children of Bourbaki. it coexists in ancient Greece with the new geometry. the hazards or circumstances of our history allow us to better understand the history of mathematical science and the circumstances of various inventions. Interlude concerning the moderns Over the recent decades. and triumphs today in the domain of computer science and its associated disciplines. you will read in the FIRST IN HISTORY: THALES   135 . whether personal or collective. Effective and present for the Egyptians and Babylonians. before acquiring. and on the rigorous ascent back up to axioms via a formalism that allows putting in order. as well as around the subject. fertile. and Turning. Here then is a different episteme. Another example: what could be more celebrated than the distinction proposed by Pascal in the seventeenth century between the spirit of geometry and the spirit of finesse? Do we really understand this distinction? Did he master it himself? For its author meditated on first principles that can neither be proved nor defined. in what concerns physics. grandchildren of logic and geometry. suddenly rising in power. although hidden beneath its transparency. then on the next line down.

the small and modest memory of this first calculative dawn. logistique and algorism?9 You still count. we demonstrate in abstraction! Was the spirit of geometry born in Asia Minor from the Hellenic language with the pure figures and formal proofs that accompany them. square and cube. and we put our head through this window to perceive an origin hidden from us by the gigantic Hellenic construction. entirely preoc- cupied with metrology and constructing it step by step? Do algorithmic thought and its finesses—calculations gathered in formulas that are blind. local. everything is to be seen. for their part. as abstract. whose immense flow has served it both as metalanguage and publicity. is Pascal talking about a science that’s different from the mathematician’s? Does this gap translate the geometers’ constant scorn. the calculation of differences … an inexhaustible horn of plenty. and does it presuppose a deductive coherence that laughs at and separates itself from the common operative manipulations that precede it in Egypt and Babylon. come from Egypt and Babylon. refusing and repressing its predecessor and causing it to be forgotten? Euclid’s famous algorithm pierces the Elements. he blindly gives it a territory as large as that of geometry and. binomial coefficients. depending. starting with the Greeks and passing through the Middle Ages all the way to Descartes himself. we at least. local and fast. found. which we take to be the only mathematics because of Greek philosophy. Consequently. the entire classical age of the seventeenth century suddenly bursts forth and joyously leaps about. without institutional objects. Leibniz discovers America. as the idealities to follow—indeed arise before geometry. fast. unlike the traditional one. mocking the first one and making do with finesse? A philosopher. the long anamnesis of the Meno’s slave. Thus the famous Pascalian distinction would oppose to the great tradition issuing from Thales and going all the way to Descartes or some other. which Pascal takes up again in his triangle and machine: that of algorithms. Like Pascal and others. and which.triangle thus constructed a theory of numbers. Might there then exist two mathematics. whatever may be said. constructed and populated. without already occupied niches defended tooth and nail: they don’t seem to remember that two millennia before them bold innovators had already reached this place. the division of the stakes. they seemed to say. formal. for those practices considered merely good for merchants and which were called. in this empty and new space. I mean a new world in which. transmitted by merchants around the Mediterranean. the second one. 136   GEOMETRY .

the three others discover it through finesse. the most ancient of our forget- tings. catenary. you think you’re devoting yourself to the results of Greek geometry. had also thought algorithmically. For if one devotes himself to the balance sheet of the new theorems proposed by Leibniz for example. Pascal. blind and acrobatic calculation. Descartes refuses it in this spirit. the distance between two simplicities. fast. cubing. one would end up with the same result as the one above concerning Pascal: many more algorithms than geometry. it works very well. How should we define it in its nascent state? Very poorly or not at all. Local. using series. FIRST IN HISTORY: THALES   137 . the other attempts to forget geometry in order to invent algorithms. measuring. did they know that the Arabs. Recessive. in inventing the word if not the thing? And what if the seventeenth century showed. A Greek geometer belonging to the ancient period. entirely preoccupied with metrology. caustics … so many articles shining like diamonds. envelopes. maxima and minima. blind. and we always think it new. easy. Newton and Leibniz invent infinitesimal calculus at the same time. in mathematics. it. squaring. envision then the great beginning made by that time as a repetition. The reader will understand here that I’m devoting myself to the anamnesis that’s the opposite of the one with which Socrates will deal with his ignorant slave boy: oh modern mathematics. Furthermore. whereas in remembering. scattered thoughts not put together in a treatise starting from fundamental elements and unfolding deductively all the way to the results. Leibniz knew this and preserved this elegant gap. the latter returns from time to time before the dominant geometer. seeming to tame the infinite. rhombi. a nice Moorish incursion into a territory traditionally abandoned to Greek ownership or took up again a Semitic language tradition in a history or culture that’s uniquely Indo-European? The end of a monopoly? And what if the seven- teenth century showed us an intellectual situation exactly symmetrical to the Greek situation? The one represses algorithms in order to give rise to geometry. if you consider it as an algorithm. excellently on the contrary. designating centers of gravity. in the interval. brachis- tochrone. formal. you become connected to the distant Babylonian past. making use of step-by-step procedures and dispersing itself into a thousand little problems: isochronic curve. you discover all by yourself that in doing algorithms. if you want to found or axiomatize it: the spirit of geometry expends and exhausts itself at this at a pure loss. that of geometry and that of algorithmic thought: a heavy and clear system facing quick. Generalize boldly: the same thing goes for the entire seventeenth century.

he understood what he was doing as little as Euclid himself did when conversely he set forth his famous. he walks and runs toward functionings that do without these demands … while wanting to fill this gap. as little as the Semites. while founding a few hopes for peace. where the scribes and calculators knew and practiced algorithmic thought. when all the sciences are continuing to apply mathematics after the Greek fashion but at the same time and together are also practicing algorithms by means of the computer. Worse. whereas the second one appears on the shores of Ionia or on the island of Samos with pure figures and the rigors of demonstration. when a geometrical inventor. which was rarely. These two rivers run along history without mixing much. so an understanding educated in the contemporary 138   GEOMETRY . but blind. Christianity. The return to the astronomy without eyes Just as the mathematics of today allows us to better understand the situation at the origin. discovered. whereas during the preceding history it had remained forgotten. pure and applied. can we conceive two mathematics? I imagine the first one to be born on the banks of the Euphrates or the Nile. What great luck for philosophy to live through this confluence and to invent other ways of thinking. we are living through one of these fertile encounters today. whose founder bears a both Semitic and Greek name. We are aware of this crossbreeding. Two thoughts reconciled today? Even more generally. at the source of the first one. inventors instead of the second one. but when he invents. must we again see here a new way of opposing an iconoclasm taking refuge in numeric and arithmetic signs and codes on the one side and the iconophilia at work in the images of geometry on the other? Through a religion. with the straight flow of the other current. Leibniz or Pascal for example. and science. the Semitic and Indo-European cultures fertilized universal history when they agreed to crossbreed. with the Indo-Europeans. algorithm. Can you imagine constructing the Elements for this mathematics that’s entirely on the side of finesse? Yes. How can we correctly conceive Leibniz’s Mathesis Universalis if not as the equivalent of an algorithmic Euclid? Or adding up the two tendencies? For in it he meditates on the rigorous encounter toward the axioms he is desperately trying to prove as well as on a reordering that would allow increased formalism.

sometimes rigorous measurement. Yet here and in those days. invariant. filtered or not by a theory or ending at its construction. can be seen there no one would question. and philosophers. as we have seen. wood or flesh. The origin of theory That light. the historians or doxographers. would mislead us. at the bright source. anachronically chosen. there is no place for the eye nor site that can be called point of view. Significantly. not the eye. The objective receiver.sciences can’t be surprised at the fact that an astronomy without sight or gaze. then a body and an entire training that sharpens sensation by means of a refined hardware. build a stone tomb in the place where it’s decomposing. of the axis and the writing on the ground. the function of discerning. stone. but occupies it first. confuse the shadow of some stake and that of a body: whether it’s a question of a fearsome building. the scientific passage from the volume to the meridian plane FIRST IN HISTORY: THALES   139 . objective. In the diagram of the Sun. And yet theory appears there. the bearer of faculties. assures the canonical role of the gnomon. this very word. A science without subject. only the sundial’s shaft and the projection plane receive information. a science that does without the sensible or that doesn’t pass through it: put a stick in the subject’s place and nothing will change. transits across a subject. Exact or approximate. of a stick or the one we thought was observing is of no matter. if we have to see it rather as an observatory. each one in its way. For the Greek astronomer doesn’t observe the way the seventeenth century and modern ages did. abstract reduction. The act of seeing doesn’t have the same place there and doesn’t take the same place in the act of knowing. when they relate the story of Thales coming to the foot of the pyramids to measure their height. begun by Galileo. like contemporary astronomy. readily repeat that there is nothing in the understanding that wasn’t first in the senses: it sounds like physics or mechanics. could have existed in those same days: ours observes no more than the Greek one does and has left the seven- teenth century interlude. will later cede its place to the sensible body. The gnomon no more precedes the theodolite than the sundial foresees the watch. like parrots. an entire sensory scene. this in addition presupposes a subject. for which domes were built around telescopes. and knowledge remains. If the sundial almost never functioned as a clock. We are in the habit of interpreting knowledge as a doublet of sensation and abstract formalities. in which you first observe in order to draw general laws. but nothing of this scene. shadows and their division. a cadaver. the axis and marks. of rays.

a thing made intelligent by its place in a singular site in the world that passes through this place in order to reflect on itself. shining like a diamond at the intersection of the sun’s rays. Thus. this automatic science. triangle. the thing form or the form thing. in the gnomon’s place and taking its name. shining or dark. the line issuing from the daystar itself. The nascent mathematical ideality never refers in Greece to a thinking subject or is thought by means of an idealism. us contemporaries newly aware of it. as well as the imaginary reconstruction in its dark inwardness—where no one will ever enter save a few transcendental philosophers equipped no doubt with the golden bough—of that same scene of shadow and light that they reproduced starting from a real eye to the filter of a legendary understanding. between the Sun and the ground themselves. the surface. theoretical.10 The artifice doesn’t refer to the subject. it writes the border of shadow on the page. The point. its universal receiver and motor. square … are born there as ideal forms in 140   GEOMETRY . oriented by it. but remains an object among objects. The realism of idealities. it sees the light. is shown at the foot of the sundial in the scene where things see things.and from the latter to the line and from this to the point. nothing could be easier than to abandon this complicated faculty so as to simply read what the Sun writes on the ground. we have to forget the philosophical prejudices of the modern interlude: man at the center of the world. αύτό καθ αύτό [auto kath’auto]. it shows the model of the sky. The world gives itself to be seen to the world that sees it: this is the meaning of the word “theory. that is. the angle of the shadow. For us to attain. the geometric model of the world are all drawn there without the intervention of organs. functions or faculties. A pocket or fold of knowledge. the Universe knows itself through itself.” Better: a thing intervenes in the world so that the world can read on itself the writing it traces on itself. the subject in the middle of knowledge. The origin of idealities The axis of the sundial is not a tool in the sense of a stick held by an ape which thus extends its grip or its maintenance. realism dominates there. active. On the contrary. indeed this artificial intelligence. circle. where similar forms engender each other. A passive receptor. the gnomon is intelligent since it puts together situations selected from among a thousand others and therefore discerns and understands. In the literal sense. nor in the sense of a magni- fying glass that enlarges the objective and increases the performance of the eye. At bottom. once again.

real like the rays of light. any local detail. like the astronomers. an automatic instrument and programs. in expectation of the induction to come. whose material experimentally led them to draw up tables of bodies. that a general law would erase them while including them at the same time. A comprehensive theory—well come. seems to us to characterize a pre-theoretical era in which observation prevails over laws. The whole constitutes a pre-modern pre-astronomy in expectation of trigonometric theory. It’s a question of an authentic and original way of knowing and FIRST IN HISTORY: THALES   141 . but completely different nonetheless since we aren’t expecting a theoretical law whose global comprehension would with a stroke of the pen nullify our software and their relation to the hardware. which give the values of an arc or an angle from the measurements of the sides of a triangle. in the middle of the very things. in the world as such. We have just contracted a new habit in seeing coexist a machine and its memory. When we see in Antiquity the tables of chords. tables or rubrics. we are minded of the historical schema brought about by the arrival of Newton or Kepler amid the Alfonsine or Toledan Tables collecting the positions of the stars. coexist with that instrument of observation that the Greeks called gnomon. So we perceive the figure of an experimental knowledge which associates an instrument and number tables in expectation of a theory whose unitary power would render the instrument outmoded at the same time as the tables. Tables or canonical lists That. accustomed in some way to the fact that a science begins in this state: for example. as numerical application. those are the tables of chords: they resemble the Toledan Tables. and a register collects them. Through this schema we understand the ancient situation. but late—renders this state outmoded: thus Kepler’s and Newton’s laws in a sentence erase this jumble since from this sentence anybody can in an instant find. after a certain fashion. The same schema. in the end. and of a simple or complicated equipment. from which they began dreaming. and this situation evidently submits to it.the darkness and the brightness. and as their common borders. tables of numbers and an instrument of observation from which they are drawn and on which they are found again correspond shouldn’t surprise a historian of science. like the fringes of shadow. An identical hope mobilized the chemists of the last century. This is the gnomon: it precedes the telescope. This coexistence of lists. the astronomical telescope indicates a thousand positions of as many stars.

for the tomb and its pharaoh mummy. the pyramid here is equivalent to the axis or stick stuck there which in turn is equivalent to this motionless passer-by frozen in the contem- plation of the apical light. on the other. Second. And the Egyptian tomb bears a funerary shaft which sights the absence of the star that. as reported by one of the legends. three exactly 142   GEOMETRY . now legible in those histories that recount Thales’ measurements during the course of his voyage. the anthropological meditation slowly conducted not long ago in the book Statues renders coherent and thinkable. it defines homothety in a space of movements with or without rotations. To carry out these calcula- tions. a same way of being-there. or rather first of all and archaically. here are three statues. marks the principle function of the sundial as fixing the meridian and on it the solstices and equinoxes. whose name says that it knows.12 This medium statement saying homothety in the literal sense of every- thing that can be used as peg or axis for such an observatory must be called historical. But third. it’s a question of a knowledge and not of its incomplete functioning. without the firmament and before geometry. in the sense given to the word by that text. or rather mediumly. Thales.not of a pre-knowledge or a state preceding knowledge. or rather in the end. perpendicular on the horizon. points of reference by the peg and the herma that rises at the boundaries. A same proportion causes the pyramid to match another erected element: an identical reason or ratio in three statements. This is the statement of rigorous science. lost to history. had written two books on them. indicated the north. the old question of the origin of geometry is resolved in this luminous and dark passage from the stars to this axis. on the one hand.11 First. solemn moments during which the shadow lengthens toward its extrema. and lastly the stake planted in this definite site. of the thesis. Markings by death and what comes out of it of the singular place. as well as what ensues geometrically: the Greek miracle falls and descends from the sky. each of these upright pegs. half-dark and half- light. the erect living body. because it recounts the astronomy of the Ionians and their first models of the world. a fundamental similarity. Greek astronomy furnishes an example of the second model rather than a paradigm of the first one: confirmation of the results from just now regarding algorithmic thought. it is said. can be taken as a gnomon: the moment of noon. The three senses of homothety Thales demonstrates the similarity of triangles whose angles are equal and sides proportional. in the sky.

Yet the blinding brightness of science comes from this darkness the way the statues resurrect from the earth.13 The origin of geometry: It comes from the earth This goes beyond history and founds the statement of science by saying the same thing in another language. retranslate or decipher it behind the light of theorems. assuming the same function of designating a layer. Yes. from which it is returned to brightness by measurement. The medium statement of astronomy says the same thing in the same language. but it climbs from the earth. Yes. from the cave where the shadows of statues dance. like a fundament dug beneath science. of these three layer markers.” The ground upset by the Nile’s flooding likewise returns to chaos. from that primary and fundamental earth repeated for more than two millennia without knowing it by the word “geometry. and says it in a primordial language that’s so full of shadow that our entire effort of thought since the origin of geometry has not sufficed to rediscover. that is to say similarly posed-there. Darkness never prevents light from appearing but light always prohibits darkness from ever being seen: geometry shines forth so much that it dazzles and therefore conceals its dark womb. But the third or first one. the exact latitude of this place. miracle!—of soon tracing. the most buried and original. cairn. and geometry is already found to be born in it. and ontological sense—of these three local and mortuary witnesses. the Thracian peasant women of the fable know that the observer of stars falls into the well: we learn through them that Thales’ place yields beneath his feet like an undermining tunnel. to the primordial darkness. here rests the mummy. metric. anabasis and procession. FIRST IN HISTORY: THALES   143 . exact. obelisk or menhir. discovering three statues in these three apparently dissimilar bodies. in the dark entrails where the stake from which knowledge climbs is stuck. resurrects from among the dead. geometry rightly bears the name of its mother. living body. staff or stock. the earth remains in the shadow like a foundation. displays the rigorous homothety—in the literal. as through embryonic.14 Always ready to laugh and burst into amusing mockery. geometry falls and descends from the sky.homothetic boundary stones. thanks to the Sun. grave. mummies. comes from the tomb. precise. from the sun. a simple and facile fall and cathode. quasi formal. the earth on which what falls from the sky is measured. Marked out with the help of the gnomon. anthropological. by the easy history of astronomy. habitat or border—oh.

under the unsaid topology. This amounted to saying as well. the same word from the same family but which nevertheless signifies the funerary cippus. at least by paralipsis. sign? Under the said metric.15 Euclid’s geometry is not yet pure. of geometry. do the Elements imply something concerning meaning? When at the beginning of the century Hilbert reconstructed geometry by means of ideal objects he proposed. he was in fact criticizing what has a meaning or meaning in Euclid. From the statuary foundation to the static foundation The memory of this anthropological foundation subsists in texts that have nevertheless been written in formal terms. an ancestor of the pyramid? The geometric statement unfolds in the new and modern time of scien- tific knowledge. The first book of Euclid’s Elements doesn’t open with the classic five postulates and five axioms. And. Due to the theory of percolation. an obelisk. during which our immediate predecessors picked out. As though it were a question of an ordinary grammar: first morphology. What was it a question of then? It’s not impossible to answer this. 144   GEOMETRY . Let’s consider here rather the definitions in their semantics. does this term come from ὲπίστημα [epistema]. abstract or formalized because it drags kernels of unanalyzed meaning in its vocabulary and morphology. Hence the subtitle of the book. the one we are now considering as such. not yet or not quite. science. the astronomical statement is recounted in the time of the history of science which is born before the beginning of geometry. and so on. Έπιστήμη [episteme]. glass or bottle. in eliminating it. then syntax. It begins with twenty-three definitions: of the point. with the straight grain and with good reason. Has it been observed that the very first word of the text was σεμεῖου [semeion]. to some filterings. these filterings can no longer be taken as metaphors. he attained Geometry. facts of topology that were drowned in the metric. the angle. cairn. to call table. They proceeded to a. Hilbert’s ironic sentence marks the end of a long history that brings meaning to zero. We have known this for at least a century. the line. Thus has Euclid been read and reread. indifferently. Let syntax particularly be retained and we have a system whose rigor and formal purity have caused the admiration of its officiating ministers for almost two millennia. the stone raised over the house of the dead. which produced results become classic today. the statuary statement is said in the time of anthropology or the time of the foundations which supports the two others. for example. having a bit of fun. that it wasn’t at all a question in the Elements.

the Meno prefers the term: limit. The plane. there is rest. first of all. a forgotten thread of history left by the pure and abstract Geometry in the trash cans into which Hilbert threw his glasses and bottles. and the quadrilateral defined as being neither a square nor a rectangle nor a diamond nor a rhomboid. the remainder of choice and previous analyses. Let’s not form any hypothesis regarding their reality or mode of existence or. If the Elements forms a deductive system. at foot-level on a flat. The Platonic school for example purified the ancient lexicon of geometry. Here simply are words. a tetrapod. system and syntax. The express aim nonetheless remains forming an ideality. as Mugler has shown. imitating the Greek geometers and philosophers. seeking. is introduced before the angle or inclination. once more. two idealities. it is literally a question of what is positioned on the ground. Our old statues have returned. Table16 Let there be. non-inclined terrain. So let’s take up again. in the Definitions. Hilbert marks the end of a history of meaning. as is said without thinking. even if we do think they are passing from sight to touch. Thus we can claim the right to analyze the meaning of the Euclidean terms while leaving aside deduction. status. τραπέζιου [trapezion]. for example a table. In the second one. This is a case of analysis of meaning and rectification of vocabulary. These discussions and analyses aren’t confined to the Academy. The Pythagoreans called surface: color. In the first case. many are found in Aristotle. has itself functioned as a similar succession of filters. no doubt because it recalled practices such as surveying. and rest all the more so because the plane. it also devotes itself to a historical balance sheet of the results that were known at the date it was written. Plato didn’t like the very term geometry. ἐπίπεδος [epipedos]. or the flat. for all the lowest points of what lies on the ground. The two words thus brought into connection. What is thus supported or positioned remains stable in any case. before Euclid. Euclid writes at a given moment of its course. FIRST IN HISTORY: THALES   145 . of what is supported on four feet. It is less known that the history of Greek mathematics. in part. Here are stable states. For all the relatively high points of the table. the plane and the trapezium. but it lastly constitutes. It didn’t content itself with accumulating inventions. two objects or two geometric beings. to desensitize it. they don’t stop at Euclid’s Elements since Proclus perpetuates them during the final days of the school of Athens. the two statuses thus designated form figures of statics. A variety of space is being defined differently than by perception.

words remain fossils. In any case. The use of the verb κεῖται [keitai] in Definitions 4 and 7. often. as we know. Sometimes. if it never appears without space nor space without it. The term ἐπιφάνεια [epiph- aneia] for example. it is used to say that a thing is lying down. 146   GEOMETRY . But. constantly made use of it. and “trapezium” is only a translation: it has forgotten the four feet of its childhood. A stative verb. evidently descends. where stereometry begins. So it doesn’t talk about Euclid. Plato. it’s always a question of rest. like an ancient alluvium. horizontally positioned. even if the process of geometry has turned its back to this meaning from its own dawn. For your analysis remains oblique. who takes it up again in Book 11. It has from the outset considered plane and trapezium outside of geometry. from the Pythagorean times of color. Pappus and Proclus as well. the first verb used after the verb ἐστιν [estin]. But you have never talked about it. of stable state. but the dog. stretched out.” but saying the sudden appearance in the light. like its English translation “to lie” for example. Inclination The term κλίσις [klisis]. used for the definition of the angle. inclination. The word “surface” trans- lates neither this appearance nor this memory. Let’s continue. the equivalent of “surface. when it’s a question of the Dog. In the geometric system of reference it designates situation. appears. you will say. Let’s resume the Platonic operation. of course. a barking animal. They eliminate a remainder that’s outside the system or erase the smear of meaning. before the angle and inclination. in a first system of reference of statics. Archimedes. it’s surely due to a tail of meaning which the geometry practiced by them had long forgotten. and thereby hampers Eudoxus. Hence this business of ground and table. and Theaetetus. If color diffuses in the surface or over the plane. like this translation. even if the plane has left the originary earth. So we must begin again: the Platonic school and the set of Greek filters didn’t proceed any differently and didn’t open any other way than the one we’re following and which ends at Hilbert. of motionlessness. in Euclid. Likewise the term “plane” very poorly translates ἐπίπεδος. epiphany. confirms this hypothesis. what’s on the ground. Suddenly we’re no longer talking about geometry. but it was unknown to the Greek geometrical tradition from Thales all the way up to and including Aristotle’s lexicon. a celestial constellation. in such a way that their translation masks the memory of this fossilized state. Canis Major.

Κεῖται disappears. an angle that FIRST IN HISTORY: THALES   147 . The straight: εὐθὐς [euthus]. The resemblance between κλίσις and κλάσις is of the same order as that which exists between ἐπίπεδος and ἐπιφάνεια. designates a support. to περιφερής [peripheres]. εὐθεῖα [eutheia]. an arrow and already almost a movement. Here is the right angle. in which κλίσις appears. a stretched-out situation. to καμπύλος [kampulos]. This is precisely the order of the set of Definitions. Inclination is not first and foremost an event in space but the rupture of an equilibrium that’s already there and the search for a new stability. too visible. For κλίνω [klino]. for analogous reasons no doubt. the balance inclines. Έπίπεδος. which belongs to the zone of touch. Now εὐθὐς. Statics reappears. which turns in a circle. Thus the straight can become inclined. on a triclinium when the Greeks were feasting. since he writes άπτομέυωυ [aptomenon]. and the verb κλᾶυ [klan]. constructed at increasing levels. draws a detour. what tilts and inclines. so it was from Euclid and his definitions that the games of weight and equilibrium came to us. these are successive equilibriums. σταθεῖσα [statheisa] now appears. that which turns. The proximity of these three words produces some meaning: something tilts or is positioned in divergence from an equilibrium. the round. to στρογγύλος [stroggulos]. in the Euclidean text or word. too luminous. completely different reasons from the order of mechanics. on a bed or a table. is opposed to πλάγιος [plagios]. Not here. the round or rounded. Their difference marks the distance between statics and optics: just as it was from Thales that we learned the games of light and shadows. Episteme first comes from equilibrium. κλίσις. the word I was in need of. but in introducing κλίσις for the first time. by inclination. here are three forms and three movements: the straight that goes straight. lowers and rises at the same time. In other words. lie down. too much of appearance. Proclus certainly read a schema of this type here since he criticized the definition as productive not of one angle. better. Tilt.An angle would evoke for this tradition rather a broken line. τραπέζιου. accompanied by a beginning of kinematics. but of two. but in language in general.17 but. the metric norm of course but also the schema of equilibrium. ἐφεστηκυῖα [ephesteknia] or ἐφέστηκεν [ephesteken]. the right course. which rolls. oblique. straight line and flat plane. he acknowledges. Euclid refuses κλάσις. First the straight. which would instead impose κλάσις [klasis]. the curve or curved. but also a fall. Definition 8. and its epistemological corollary. which moves circularly. often used by the vocabulary of optics. Plato refuses to adopt the term ἐπιφάνεια. already contains ἐπίπεδος and κειμένων [keimenon]. again. without saying as much and perhaps without knowing it. then the angle and its inclination in divergence from equilibrium.

the obtuse. Let’s finish. We are returning to equilibrium. in part. from which I started. defines three of them: the equilateral. whether acute. Let’s lastly note that. but also obtuse or acute according to said divergence. Let’s note in passing that the acute. the circumference. the trilateral. We should note in this connection that γωνία [genia]. with our beginning. right or obtuse. limping. rhetoric repeats it for a discourse with equal or equilibrated parts. Consequently. in the preceding definition and in its own. appears right here. is connected to the verb ἀμβλύνω [ambluno]. Rhythm again. Top A new inclination appears with the second plane figure: the triangle or better. statics returns. I think. that is to say. which sometimes designates the slowing of a given movement. rhythm in some way as the first schema. the circle. the pillar of a bridge. designates a corner. The movement of rotation appears with the angle or inclination. as we know. Of course. In the same Platonic place. περιφερεία [periphereia]. Euclid gives the circle. Proclus links it to σκολιός [skolios]. the word σχῆμα [schema] appears. But what’s the situation with meaning again? Ίσοσκελές [isoskeles] literally designates two equal legs. and immediately after. this is the period. σκαλενός [skalenos] says the odd. We’re moving from statics to phoronomy. but in general it designates something or someone who limps. with one of the quadrilat- erals. but also with the thread and through the very construction of the text. oblique or winding. the isosceles and the scalene in general.can be right. beyond inclination and circular or angular movement. This classification is commonly read by genus and differentia. and σκάζω [skazo]. Plato uses this word in the Euthyphro (12d) to say an even number. ὀξεῖα [okseia]. is not the trapezium or the 148   GEOMETRY . This result isn’t merely obtained through the lateral meanings in the diverse semantic zones. but is especially related to γόνυ [genu]. the knee. angle. from the introduction of the circle. the isosceles recovers the equilibrium lost in the movement of walking. signifies very quick and rapid as well and that ἀμβλεῖα [ambleia]. But σκέλος [skelos] shows the leg. The most interesting thing here. or rather we are reaching a new equilibrium. The diameter represents this stability just as much as the center. Euclid. being unequal. the scalene tilts. themselves appearing on the straight course. whose link to ῥυθμόσ [ruthmos] is known in the Democritean lineage as well as the Aristotelian. thanks to which we can class triangles into right triangles and other ones.

tetrapod table, balanced in any case, but the rhombus and the rhomboid.
For the term ρόμβος [rombos] derives from ρὲμβω [rembo], turning or
rather spinning round, like a whirlpool. And ρόμβος expresses the top, or
any object with a circular form that can turn round an axis. Archimedes
of course gives a stereometric follow-up to this figure and calls two cones
with common circular bases and vertices opposed along the same axis a
solid rhombus.
Here, in Euclid, is a planar top. We know, from a well-known passage
in the Republic (IV, 436d–e), that the top’s spinning had posed the difficult
problem of simultaneous motion and rest to Plato. He escapes from this
turning stability, which seems contradictory to him, by affirming that the
apparatus remains at rest in respect to the straight but moves in respect to
the round, something true on condition of ignoring that the axis becomes
all the more fixed the more quickly it turns. While the theorem may not
have been known to the Greek engineers, the fact has never been unknown,
I suppose, to children themselves, who have never stopped playing with the
contradiction that delays the philosopher. They enjoy rest in and through
circular motion. Hence one can amuse themselves with what causes fear,
to return to Plato’s text. Like the φάρμακον [pharmakon], poison and cure,
the top constructs a contradictory deconstruction. And Euclid’s Definitions
construct it in turn, more childlike than the Republic. You Greeks, you’ll
always be children, says the old Egyptian priest of the Timaeus.

In short, the Definitions end, or almost, with two cases of figures,
trapezium and rhombus, in which equilibrium is at stake: either on a high
place, or without base, on a single point and through a motion—refined,
complex, difficult and sophisticated cases. In a way, everything moves
toward the rhombus: the point on which it’s positioned, the acute point
(the ancient στιγμή [stigma], the ὀξεῖα of the angle, the needle or spur
of the κέντρον [kentron]) on which it is supported, the angle formed by
this point, the circle described by the top in rotation, the double triangle
visible as stable in motion, and the quadrilateral plane called diamond.
Nothing is straight, everything is straight; nothing is stable, everything is
stable. The text constructs the whirling rhombus piece by piece; in brief,
it assembles the whirlpool, before the major drawing that is the bundle
of parallel lines that never meet however long they continue in both
It looks, once again, like the model brought to light in Lucretius’s
physics, the model mathematized in the Archimedean system: turbulence
and cataract. The Democritean tradition can be read here just as much as
the one that goes back to Plato.


Everything happens, consequently, as though the Definitions constructed,
term by term, case by case, and parts by parts, increasingly complex equilib-
riums starting from the simplest ones. From the lowest low point, from
what’s positioned right on the ground to either the highest point or the
most refined, the most difficult case, exactly the contradictory case, through
successive disruptions of previous equilibriums and through access to new
stabilities: inclination, movement, rotation, the unequal gait of the lame (two
feet, four feet, a single foot …), lastly all these ruptures at the same time.
Less the beginning of a Geometry, these are prolegomena for a
Mechanics. Lagrange, it seems, appears in Euclid. The Mécanique analy-
tique seems to emerge from the Elements, the idea that statics dominates
phoronomy, and almost the principle of virtual velocities.
Let’s at least understand here why Euclidean space has always seemed to
be the familiar space of our ordinary technologies more than an abstract,
formal and pure space: already or still a Lagrangian or Archimedean space,
in short, a space of statics. The space of the ground, right-angled walls,
tables, supports and doors. Hilbert was right, and Klein before him even
more so: neither pure nor abstract, Euclidean geometry remains an applied
mathematics. The group of movements is still tied to practical adhesions.
It couldn’t be any other way. Here is the major monument of Greek
science, its exemplary achievement. Yet this science, ὲπιστήμη, in its
meaning and its project, remains a knowledge of equilibrium; this compre-
hensive word tells us so. Euclid repeats it with ἐφεστηκυῖα or ἐφέστηκεν.
Science as such, in its definition, is inscribed in the Definitions. The
monument, on its facade, bears its inscription.
This knowledge of stabilities endures from the Greeks to Lagrange
and no doubt beyond, through positivism, and after it this homonymous
science of equilibrium comes all the way to us, all the way to recent times
when knowledge is becoming rather one of divergences.

Western science remains the science of the stable; this text by Euclid
doesn’t hide it: system for syntax and for semantics.

Networks of balls
Let’s consider a ball with poorly defined contours and an imprecise border
or periphery, whose ὄρος [horos] or πέρας [peras] is not well cut out at the
outset. The general question of the Definition can be depicted by this form,
which can be drawn in a space as the semantic zone of a word.


In common language, this zone has fluctuating edges. Let’s mark a
little closed ball, for example a point, in the ball: it suffices if it’s inside.
Let’s thus consider two, three, etc., several balls, and respectively as many
points marked in their interiors. From points to points, let’s trace as many
lines as it’s possible to trace. Here in all is a connected network. The
relations between the points determine the points inside the semantic
zones, and reciprocally the points inside the zones determine the relations.
This double determination in practice resolves the problem of definition.
Euclid’s Definitions form a well-connected network that can be constructed
and drawn. Let’s lastly observe that, in order to construct this network, we
only had need of three words present in the text itself: ὄρος or πέρας,
boundary, σημεῖον, point, and γραμμή [gramme], line. We will return to
these three words.
The method used up to now consists in choosing a ball and moving in
its zone starting from the point marked by the text. This method demands
that we never near the fluctuating border, much less go beyond it. Assume
then this movement, which can crudely be called a change of sense.18
It adopts, in the zone, a certain direction, a certain sense. Question: in
how many balls can this movement be carried out, on condition that it’s
the same, in the same direction and in the same sense? Answer: in only
a subset. For it is impossible in the zone of ἐπιφάνεια, of ἐτερόμηκες
[eteromekes] or of παράλληλοι [paralleloi], for example, to locate a point
that can be referred to movement or rest. And if it were possible to do
so for the whole of the network of the Definitions, these latter would be
ambiguous. Statics would have always been read in Geometry.
And so, if one links the new points of the subset in the same way
as before, a subnetwork is obtained. The subnetwork highlighted up to
now has been that of mechanics: Lagrange or Archimedes immersed
themselves in Euclid in order to clarify ideas. Yet this subnetwork is
constructed on common language in such a way that we are sure, from
the successive filterings carried out by the Platonic school for example
on the vocabulary of geometry, that it would have been reduced or elimi-
nated by local change of the lexicon if it had run counter to the practice
of the Greek geometers. Thus Euclid as well substitutes klisis for klasis in
the interest of erasing all reference to either optics or the visible, in such
a way that epiphaneia is a fossil or remainder of this evolution. Yet the
mechanical subnetwork, still present, non-filtered, has been preserved.

The word episteme gave a reason for this: inscribed in its own term, the
global idea of science is the idea of equilibrium. This lexicon recreates


this idea. But it doesn’t let it be seen directly. In a certain way, beneath the
definition of abstract identities, this lexicon conceals a schema, perhaps a
Democritean or Epicurean one, since it could be read again in Lucretius’s
physics, which is tied to the Greek idea of science.
Consequently, as for a painting, the original can be read beneath the
repaints, so that we are perhaps holding here something having to do with
the origin of geometry, the considerable residue of a very old filtering.
Language itself resolves the question of origin more easily than history or

Yet, the subnetwork of mechanics, from equilibrium to the whirling top,
covers a large extent of the global network. Can this operation be iterated
and subnetworks discovered having less extent than the above and hence
perhaps more buried? Are there repaints that conceal from us something
other than mechanics? We would have to translate “trapezium” by banking
or money-changing table, after having translated it merely as table, and
to construct the associated subnetwork. Could an anthropology be found
at the second level of this palimpsest? These subnetworks don’t cross the
percolation threshold.
Does nature lie beneath culture and the latter beneath the former …?
Other paths lead to a similar goal, to be discovered after other practical
results, also found along the same path.

Return to the gnomon and to the pragmatic or
artificial origin
Euclid too calls gnomon that angled complement of a square which
carpenters commonly call a framing square [équerre], a statics and trade
word that describes wonderfully the extraction of a square right in the
middle of its hollowed-out right angle. Should the latter leave the perpen-
dicular and bend toward the acute or obtuse, the inner parallelogram will
remain similar to the outer one obtained by adding to it again this same
band or circle around a form which is thus reproduced as much as you
We’ll understand the geometrical arithmetic of the Pythagoreans once
we know that they gave the same name to the complement, expressed in
odd numbers, of successive squares. Far from writing this situation as
we do:


12 + 3 = 22
22 + 5 = 32
32 + 7 = 42

n2 + (2n +1) = (n + 1)2

they drew it as a simplex or stars in the sky, a graph that reproduces without
notable difference Euclid’s definition: odd numbers form a framing square
around the inner square and endlessly reproduce with it an outer square,
obviously similar to the first one.19 With diagrams where the right angle
bends, numbers that are triangular, pentagonal … in general polygonal can
thus be produced. Theon of Smyrna calls them gnomonic numbers. Through
these procedures we are reaching arrangements that are no doubt archaic but
that announce Pascal’s triangle as well, that algorithm recently described.
The axis of the sundial, the gnomon now becomes a framing square:
an instrument in either case. The first draws several stations of the Sun
on the sand, whereas a ruler, thus named after the Latin rectus, the right
angle or straight line, like the framing square, can describe them on a
page. Geometry is sometimes defined as a science that only allows itself,
as artificial objects, the ruler and the compass. What are we to think about
the status, about the place and function of such tools in a perfectly pure
Second, these angled lateral bands, two-sided complementary forms,
enlarge or reduce, reproduce at leisure squares or parallelograms, while
leaving similarity intact. The story of Thales can be turned in both direc-
tions: the axis of the sundial causes him to discover homothety, or through
homothety, gnomonic growth causes passing from the stake, a reduced
model, to the giant pyramid.
Lastly, the gnomon aligns sequences of numbers. How should we define
it if not as a law of a series? Add an odd number, sum up the odd numbers,
and you will obtain successive squares. Or: juxtapose the complementary
band, and the similar parallelogram will appear. The gnomon is defined as
a law of construction, as the rule of a sequence or its engendering.
An automatic rule, functioning all by itself, inscribing the chain at
leisure or each link without our intervention, this operation does without
the active or thinking subject, just as the shaft of the axis writes on the
ground in our absence.

Everyone recognizes two kinds of artificial object: those that don’t depend
on us and those that do. Only the first ones function unceasingly or better,


even when we’re sleeping. abstract or formal statements and the most carnally human ones conspire wonderfully in this simple and easy plumb-line. useless and annihilated. and that of the operation whose iterated return constructs series of numbers. then as a ruler that will at leisure reproduce straight lines. the earth and sky. leads us to artificial intelligence—whose avatars we see in these three states: first as a thing. that of the framing square or the lateral band that’s added or subtracted. better. lastly as a formal operation on numbers. We translate: perpendicularly. Certainly. the static origin of geometry whose trace I just discovered in Euclid’s Definitions and the preceding or underlying statuary foundation: epistemology and anthropology. for this word in our languages and practices refers to the plumb-line.never stop being artificial objects. but when we abandon the shovel and the pen. Darkness and brightness. Let this latter adverb we use heedlessly be rethought or weighed. knowledge and the thing: in all. that string that the Greeks called στάθμη [stathme]. extracted or. it hangs [pend] like the mason’s string and weighs just as its lead weight does. to three automatic functionings. the Ancients said: that meant vertically. So giving an identical name. What? The vertical gnomon signifies intelligence and artificial object at the same time? But the perpen- dicular does so as well. abstracted from this ruler. for a marvelous coherence and cooperation. a speculative tool. exclusively intelligent during our ecstatic hours. Stable for mechanics. that of the stake raised toward the Sun. physics and customs. enjoys of course the greatest slope [pente] just as much as what attaches the pans of the balance. In this artificial object we find united. post or axis. a mass or dense and heavy rock. a straight statue pointed toward the low ground. one expressing knowledge. the others rest too often to authentically have the right to this title. true tools don’t depend on us. a fine ruler that draws an almost perfect line on the facing provided it’s dyed with liquid color (it therefore writes like the axis of the sundial). this thing never deceives and functions automatically. an automatic rule. suspended 154   GEOMETRY . Thinking perpendicularly According to the gnomon. angles. Examples: the wall and the roof always protect us. an algorithm. Here. the equipment of the mason is said with a word whose root again designates equilibrium. linguistics and history. ideal polygons. the most ideal. According to the plumb-line: perpendicularly. At bottom. they sleep.

misfortune having impelled us to found education on such an arbitrary thing. false or true at leisure like every law of history. the things built by the hands of men implicitly possessing or containing the secret of the abstract speculations to come. Yes sometimes. ruler or compass. Artificial intelligence doesn’t date from yesterday. from which they never separate themselves. From the origin of science there have existed things or states of affairs that the history of our languages has associated with mental activities. the gnomon maintains with knowledge the same link or relation. This verb knows no other origin than weighing. pendre ou pente]. the perpendicular thinks. very soft. That our languages thus bring us back. for knowledge. reordered a previous and obscure history of acts and gestures: doings. as though these artificial objects—plumb-line. often not. In brief. imitated. did without knowing. skillful but crude. Profound linguists claim that the vernacular word “baratin” [patter. still the plumb-line or stathme: yes. Even should we do our utmost to weave the link from the literal and hard meaning to the figurative meaning. as though the sequence and system of theorems unfolded. and even the close anxiety of fear or expectation—the reference remains the balance. This doesn’t amount to repeating the pragmatist theory of the origin of the pure sciences according to which practice constantly precedes knowledge. But it doesn’t matter. or rather. framing square—passed for subjects of thought. the same ratio as the perpendicular with thought. the pendulum. the theory of professors who believe that inventing consists in excellently copying out a text poorly written by calloused hands or that discovery reduces to interpretation. through evaluation or estimation – the decision on the jeweler’s scale [pesette] regarding the grade of a coin or an ingot. to artificial objects as primitive and simple as the plumb-line merely indicates that FIRST IN HISTORY: THALES   155 . to the detriment of abstraction. which they guard themselves against. ancestors. smooth talk] also issues from practice or from the Greek verb corresponding to our verb “to do.” since the favorite discourse of intellectuals consists in extolling action. sublimated. The science of education A thousand manipulations only lead the one who has already found it to rigor. We will never falsify or verify these judgments about the past. theory doesn’t always amount to explication of what manual work implicates. No. The height of baratin consists in talking about doing while merely holding forth. hanging or slope [peser. before the law [droit]. Nothing will ever prove or invalidate a pendulum: but it thinks [pense].

We say with a word of understanding a thing we would like to be devoid of understanding. even before the Greeks. and monstrously mimics mental acts. an automatic function is carried out without the participation of will or intention. while the gnomon says that it has known for more than three millennia. thought. Arabs and modern or Enlightenment figures would assemble mobile statues for the ornament or torment of their contemporaries. itself reducing. functioning well or poorly. mendacity. And I find it more difficult to conceive a virtual agency. the stable statue with epistemology. mention. For a long time our languages have known that automatons think. montre [watch]. the axis of the 156   GEOMETRY . money are lined up in the Latin subset issuing from this root. around a transcendental subject. internal to the individual. monument. as the word expressly indicates. whereas it reduces. memory. whereas the words anamnesis. demented. The “I think” is three hundred years old. dementia or mania … the philosophy we have learned induces us to distribute them like faculties. at least the languages said so. monster. does with episteme. the automaton comments and demonstrates. than to see the string or axis of the sundial write automatically. that the perpendicular or pendulum does with thought or that the stathme. to a possibility of doing. this is a sentence that seems to meditate on or decide the in-appearance bold questions we are asking regarding artificial intel- ligence. It suffices to reunite a few relatives of the family to obtain a few nice effects of meaning. commentary. knowledge. Straight science. The sundial no doubt owes its comparison to our watches to this. mental acts. demon- stration. but the language that has written or spoken this philosophy for several millennia brings them back to their places of origin. A mental automaton We use this latter adverb heedlessly.the human subject of thought dates from a recent era: artificial intel- ligence is older than intelligence itself conceived as a faculty. The entire family that this word belongs to refers to an Indo-European root—men—in which on the contrary mental activity is found again: vehement. For us. to the monotonous repetition of the same unit of meaning. An example: like a watch [montre]. to a tautology or redundancy. mania and automaton belong to the Greek cousinage. thanks to its memory. plumb-line. compartment by compartment or in a circle. to the eyes and ears of the artisan of language. memory. a transcendental condition for intellectual operations. In sum. the automaton maintains with mental activity the same relation that the gnomon does with knowledge.

the ruler. Matter. halfway along this return to the objects of the world. Form signifies contour. immedi- ately teaches us that it behaves like an artificial object that thinks. it belongs to artificial intel- ligence. practiced in daily use or rare and stylized experience. social and singular. from collective culture to the personal unconscious. definition and deter- mination in the literal sense as well as the principle of organization of the object. from books to codes: but what does such a sentence mean. collectively and over the time of a long history. or several. language. The right angle describes the appearance of the framing square FIRST IN HISTORY: THALES   157 . perpendicular or round. Its artisan often finds himself led by it. used by us. white box The vertical gnomon. figures.” slides and can’t settle down between its literal meaning and its counter-meaning? Constructed by us who find ourselves constructed by it. since rule and direction repeat the Latin rectus which signifies the straight line. The subject there hesitates between a quasi-subject. If there exists a rule for the direction of the mind. from which the lessons of things have disappeared. individually and in groups. the angled framing square. then the subject. and a quasi-object. already reside in this latter? And why resist the refined pleasure of extricating the very scientific etymology of poêle [stove-warmed room]: a word issuing from the Latin balnea pensilia. artificial and natural. in third position. the string and the balance … as though it was describing an object intelligence. so that only those who hold forth acquire a noble status. and form. without our being able to decide. the framing square. throat. natural and cultural. hanging baths? What is there to do in a stove-warmed room except to say “I think” [je pense]?20 Logos The philosophies taught today in the classroom. or horizontal in the case of the balance. depending. and if language notices some redundancy as well between the orientation that the mind has to follow and the thing that indicates it. and bodily gestures—and outside us. edges. in the libraries and semaphores. “subject. first. and stop. soundtracks and radio receivers: internal-external. Does the mind. In other words. perpendicular and pendulum adopt a constant form: a vertical straight line. black box. does nothing but imitate an objective form. in which a word.sundial. since language lives inside us— mouth. place the subject in language. timid. compass. like currency.

even a given atom or isotope. aspect or reality. marble. Thus form can be regarded as a phenomenon and an well as its constitutive skeleton. Idealism. The entirely informed forms lie in the things themselves. where it suffices to collect them. Our intelligence. automatic and accurate. but a given crystal. The second lies in the first. thus our works reverse the ancient processes by which information only came from our skillful hands or expert under- standing. Whether stone. boundaries foreseen and placed by materialist metaphysics. only found in the world its own image. On this Sunday of technologies we recognize first of all that the Universe has already forged much: this is the fount of information. The information it shows or gives corresponds to its form and varies with it. Of course. This latter vanishes with the progress of the physical sciences. its construction. There isn’t any matter in the Universe. the project of the work are reversed. had closed the treasure’s door. which never cease 158   GEOMETRY . Knowledge lies in the form. Otherwise the physical sciences would have ended up encountering limits to their progress or their history. The technologies of old informed matter: the potter at the wheel modeled the clay in order to draw the urn from the circle and his tangential hands. According to the form. the stone before the device. Yet the loose earth and clay. and some other given crystal functions as a valve or semiconductor. thus from a pile of stones the mason raised the house according to the architect’s plan. The sense. assimilates form and information. Our technologies today tend instead to explore or recognize first and foremost the refined and complex forms scattered in the things of the world and to chose one of them or to mix several of them when they correspond to our aims and the constraints of the manufacture being considered: these forms even precede them sometimes. crude enterprise. in themselves and by themselves crystalline. Science and technology reduced the real to their representations. narcissistic. the direction. in the fire and by the hammer. our slightly stupid. We have changed all that. Language. again. and the blacksmith twice did violence to the peaceful metal. violent. a given molecule. we still assemble clocks out of metal as in the past. Industry added further plans to the crafts but along the same paths. conceal a thousand artificial objects as in a horn of plenty that the ancient hands and wills ignored by plugging it up. which it imprinted there with great effort. now make for better watches. the metal in its gangue. the information changes. provided that it rises perpendicularly from the plane of the ground. even though the world hides a thousand times more marvels than our decisions. iron or bronze enter into the axis or the sundial as prime matter doesn’t matter.

Geometry still slumbers beneath the earth or dreams in the brilliance of the Sun: the gnomon of the ancient Greeks or the Babylonians awoke one part of it along the singular forms common to the shadow and the light. Consequently. transparent. whose enormous stock in the world. There exists an immense objective intelligence of which artificial and subjective intelligence constitute small subsets. Here again is the source. noise. draw on the ground. Matter doesn’t exist. once again wonderfully named. The object that we know is forged by us in a way that’s analogous to certain things of the world. so as to only recognize mass. mathematically finite but physically infinite. Our intelligence is not an exception in black surroundings that would passively wait for us to inform them. FIRST IN HISTORY: THALES   159 . or organism recodes a subset of coded forms. There is only information. the objective and partial information of the shadow that speaks locally about the form of the global world. The world adds up and gives an enormous stock of forms. Even weight codes a field of forces. all by themselves. forever our guides. and both of them. a system or noise which tosses and shakes their innumerable multiplicity as in a basket. innumerable forms. white intelligence is immanent and no doubt coextensive with the Universe. the gnomon intercepts the flow descending from the Sun. no doubt expressible by a very large number. even any aggregate. and all the way down to the tiniest particle. out of which comes this erected statue. leaves science in an open history. the fundamental Earth of Geometry. give the illusion of matter. with or without mass. only forms are found. as well as their chaotic or ordered mixture. chaos. Intelligent. Only mixture and disorder.discovering forms without ever encountering any matter they don’t name. like atoms. colloid.

160 .

Socrates. that I may demonstrate on him.—MENO: Indeed. Socrates. but what do you mean by saying that we do not learn.—MENO: I will.—SOCRATES: A square may be of any size?—BOY: Certainly.—SOCRATES: He is Greek. I wish that you would. but only recollection. boy.—SOCRATES: And you know that a square figure has these four lines equal?—BOY: Certainly. indeed. and speaks Greek.—SOCRATES: It will be no easy matter.—SOCRATES: Tell me. but I will try to please you to the utmost of my power. Meno. but if you can prove to me that what you say is true.—MENO: Certainly. I only asked the question from habit. boy.— SOCRATES: And these lines which I have drawn through the middle of the square are also equal?—BOY: Yes. and that what we call learning is only a process of recollection? Can you teach me how this is?—SOCRATES: I told you. when I am saying that there is no teaching. and observe whether he learns of me or only remembers.6  FIRST IN PHILOSOPHY: THE IGNORANT SLAVE BOY From Pythagoras to Zeno: The algorithmic origin MENO: Yes. I protest that I had no such intention. he was born in the house. and now you ask whether I can teach you. and thus you imagine that you will involve me in a contradiction.—SOCRATES: And if one side of the figure be of . does he not?— MENO: Yes. do you know that a figure like this is a square?—BOY: I do. Suppose that you call one of your numerous attendants. Come hither.—SOCRATES: Attend now to the questions which I ask him. just now that you were a rogue.

but four times as much.two feet. not twice.—SOCRATES: And the space of four feet is made from this half line?—BOY: Yes. indeed. and the other side be of two feet. the whole would be of two feet taken once?—BOY: Yes. I like to hear you say what you think. the line is double. I think so.—SOCRATES: And now try and tell me the length of the line which forms the side of that double square: this is two feet—what will that be?—BOY: Clearly.—SOCRATES: And four such lines will make a space containing eight feet?—BOY: Yes.— SOCRATES: Very good. Socrates.—SOCRATES: And might there not be another square twice as large as this. and less than that one?—BOY: Yes. and now he fancies that he knows how long a line is necessary in order to produce a figure of eight square feet.—SOCRATES: Observe him while he recalls the steps in regular order. then.—SOCRATES: And how many are twice two feet? Count and tell me.—MENO: True. (To the Boy): Tell me. but of a figure equal every way. does he not?— MENO: Yes.—SOCRATES: But since this side is also of two feet.—BOY: Four.—SOCRATES: He only guesses that because the square is double.—SOCRATES: And does he really know?—MENO: Certainly not. as this gives one of sixteen feet.—SOCRATES: Then the square is of twice two feet?—BOY: Yes.—SOCRATES: And is not that four times four?—BOY: Certainly. and having like this the lines equal?— BOY: Yes.—SOCRATES: Therefore the double line.—SOCRATES: Four times four are sixteen—are they not?—BOY: Yes.—SOCRATES: But how much?—BOY: Four times as much.—SOCRATES: And of how many feet will that be?—BOY: Of eight feet. Socrates. and is not a space of eight feet twice the size of this.—SOCRATES: Let us describe such a figure: Would you not say that this is the figure of eight feet?—BOY: Yes.—SOCRATES: Such a space. and twice the size of this— that is to say of eight feet.—SOCRATES: What line would give you a space of eight feet. each of which is equal to the figure of four feet?—BOY: True. boy.—SOCRATES: And are there not these four divisions in the figure.—BOY: True. and I want to know whether you still say that a double square comes from double line?—BOY: Yes.—SOCRATES: But does not this line become doubled if we add another such line here?—BOY: Certainly.—do you see?—BOY: Yes. and half the size of the other?—BOY: Certainly. has given a space.—SOCRATES: Good. And now tell 162   GEOMETRY . do you assert that a double space comes from a double line? Remember that I am not speaking of an oblong. and in the other direction of one foot.—SOCRATES: And four times is not double?—BOY: No. will be made out of a line greater than this one. Meno.—SOCRATES: Do you observe. but only asking him questions. how much will the whole be? Let me explain: if in one direction the space was of two feet. there are twice two feet?—BOY: There are. it will be double. that I am not teaching the boy anything. boy.

what is the side of a figure of eight feet: but then he thought that he knew.—SOCRATES: We have certainly. as would seem.—SOCRATES: Here.—SOCRATES: But do you suppose that he would ever have enquired into or learned what he fancied that he knew.—BOY: Indeed.” have we done him any harm?— MENO: I think not. that will be the line of three. Here are two and there is one.—SOCRATES: But it ought FIRST IN PHILOSOPHY: THE IGNORANT SLAVE BOY   163 . is not this a line of two feet and that of four?—BOY: Yes.—SOCRATES: Then the figure of eight is not made out of a line of three?—BOY: No. and on the other side. and answered confidently as if he knew. then. and had no difficulty. and he shall share the enquiry with me: and do you watch and see if you find me telling or explaining anything to him.—MENO: True. but then he would have been ready to tell all the world again and again that the double space should have a double side. is not this a square of four feet which I have drawn?—BOY: Yes. which is equal to either of them?—BOY: Yes.—SOCRATES: And how many times larger is this space than this other?—BOY: Four times.—SOCRATES: And now I add another square equal to the former one?—BOY: Yes.—SOCRATES: Do you see.— SOCRATES: Try and see if you can tell me how much it will be. and less than the other of four feet?—BOY: It ought. Socrates.—SOCRATES: And how much is the double of four?—BOY:—SOCRATES: Mark now the farther development. then show me the line. the whole space will be three times three feet?—BOY: That is evident. and neither knows nor fancies that he knows. now he has a difficulty.—SOCRATES: If we have made him doubt. and given him the “torpedo’s shock.—SOCRATES: And a third. and he does not know now. though he was really ignorant of it. I shall only ask him.—BOY: Three feet. there are four equal spaces?—BOY: Yes.—SOCRATES: Then if we add a half to this line of two. and if you prefer not to calculate.—SOCRATES: And how much are three times three feet?— BOY: Nine.—SOCRATES: But if there are three feet this way and three feet that way. assisted him in some degree to the discovery of the truth. Meno.—SOCRATES: Is he not better off in knowing his ignorance?—MENO: I think that he is.​ —SOCRATES: Then he was the better for the torpedo’s touch?—MENO: I think so. what advances he has made in his power of recollection? He did not know at first. and now he will wish to remedy his ignorance.—SOCRATES: But from what line?—tell me exactly.—MENO: True. until he had fallen into perplexity under the idea that he did not know.—SOCRATES: Then the line which forms the side of eight feet ought to be more than this line of two feet. and not teach him. boy. instead of eliciting his opinion.—SOCRATES: Suppose that we fill up the vacant corner?—BOY: Very good. and had desired to know?—MENO: I think not. Socrates. I do not know. here are two also and there is one: and that makes the figure of which you speak?—BOY: Yes. Tell me.

Yet the history of science generally no more refers to the theory in favor of which Socrates calls for an ignorant and creates this problem for him than the history of philosophy treating recollection refers to the dupli- cation of the square itself. And if this is the proper name. from the line which extends from corner to corner of the figure of four feet?—BOY: Yes. PLATO. this being one of them.2 But we must in addition precisely describe those worlds and those times which reappear over the course of the demonstration. in this place in the Meno and on the have been twice only. aiming toward the recovery of a forgotten knowledge? What relations can be defined between science and memory? 164   GEOMETRY .—SOCRATES: And are there not here four equal lines which contain this space?—BOY: There are. Socrates.—SOCRATES: And does not this line.3 they search. for traces or evidence of Greek geometry from the fifth century. Meno’s slave.1 Black memory We must believe that the slave boy staged in Plato’s Meno is evidence of a forgotten world which he remembers in front of us through an exercise of recollection. bisect each of these spaces?—BOY: Yes. today forgotten by everyone but them. And what if by some chance the two memories became identical? Are Socrates and the slave boy devoted to the same effort as ours. then you.—SOCRATES: And from what line do you get this figure?—BOY: From this. because only rare fragments of it have been preserved.—SOCRATES: And that is the line which the learned call the diagonal.—BOY: I do not understand. reaching from corner to corner.—SOCRATES: That is. Translation: Benjamin Jowett. and we must also think that Socrates and Plato astutely evoke the inspired rhythms of the poets who bring them back to those lost times. as you will remember.—SOCRATES: And how many in this?—BOY: Two.— SOCRATES: And how many spaces are there in this section?—BOY: Four. Reconstructing the diagram and demonstrating the relation of the side to the diagonal allows the reconstruction of lost knowledge and times gone by: a work of recollection. When historians of science reexamine the problem treated here of the duplication of the square.—SOCRATES: Look and see how much this space is.—BOY: True.—SOCRATES: Has not each interior line cut off half of the four spaces?—BOY: Yes.—SOCRATES: And four is how many times two?—BOY: Twice. are prepared to affirm that the double space is the square of the diagonal?— BOY: Certainly. Meno 81e–85c.—SOCRATES: And this space is of how many feet?—BOY: Of eight feet.

His error therefore comes from the fact that he first poses the question of the gnomon. the odd numbers and the sequence of integers: the first ones along the diagonal. The young ignorant jumps from two to four and goes back down from four to three: so he follows the sides of the square in whole numbers in the direction of the Geometric Algebra of the ancient Pythagoreans. obtaining a square of nine. the slave extends the first side by double. that. the Pythagorean table that displays the perfect squares. A B Let there be a square whose area we are trying to double. Why? Starting from side AB of two feet. FIRST IN PHILOSOPHY: THE IGNORANT SLAVE BOY   165 . Can it be resolved like this? At least the little slave boy begins. to represent it in this way: there’s absolutely no doubt that he makes a mistake because of such a drawing since the true solution begins when he abandons it. even though he was asked for one of eight. the last ones along the sides. The duplication furnishes a trivial particular case of such a similarity. we have to extend the two sides of the old square. let’s repeat. The odd numbers are distributed along what remains of the framing square. The error occurs twice and twice by excess. the ancient problem precedes him. with Socrates. How many feet will the side of the new square measure? Whatever the response. We find again the old form of the angled framing square whose emptiness lets the initial square be seen and whose instrument materializes in iron or wood the supplement added to the square. These overshootings are again explained by the problem of the gnomon. says Hero of Alexandria. In other words. gives a whole that’s similar to what it has been added to. Everything must be called such. the double of four. added to a number or to a figure. Doubling the given area consists in constructing the framing square: here once again is the problem of the gnomon. This word signifies the framing square but also. So he goes back and chooses a side of three feet. therefore with an area of four. giving it four feet and coming across an area of sixteen.

from the limit to the variety it surrounds or defines. says it. The mathematical world of Plato. The line forms the edge of the figure the way the latter forms the edge of a body. So the slave makes a mistake because he follows the edge. one must know how to cross the border. He follows the limit or a single and the first dimension to resolve a two-dimen- sional problem. Theaetetus. He first remembers the definition attempts in the dialogue: he must have listened to them. Geometric Algebra. we remember that conversely Daedalus and Plato wanted to fly toward volume to free themselves from planar enigmas: in each case. the old Pythagoreans. And the young man knows it. in charge of knowing. remembers a forgotten world. they trusted the gnomon. For let’s recall that the exercise parallel to the definition of virtue consisted in defining figure and that they agreed first to reject the early results: figure reduces neither to form nor to color. He secondly remembers the state in which Greek geometry found itself before the discovery of the diagonal. He remembers. that he knows his multiplication table since he answers “four” without hesitation to the question: how much is two times two? And he easily confirms that four times four is sixteen and three times three equals nine. the reign of whole numbers. But for Socrates and his school this tabular and numeral knowledge amounts to ignorance. but they accepted that it’s the limit where a solid ends. He knows the table and the old framing square. But the inference from the line to the area as from the area to the volume. repre- sents it. The new school lost that knowledge. Really? We attest. Eudoxus was totally cut off from this one. become contemptible and only good all in all for slaves. In those days. we who understand and read the dialogue from a distance of two millennia. is not valid. But we read that the slave recites his table. that of the square drawn by Socrates or that of the numeral diagram. hidden in some nook. 166   GEOMETRY . The slave makes a mistake because he remembers the definition by the edge. that is to say. Short-term memory. Knowing his numbers is equivalent to knowing nothing. Theodorus.

according to the ancient and exact procedures that this latter is not ignorant of. Let’s cut in two. let’s proceed by dichotomies. he attests by his body. The young slave and Socrates walk together and move at the same amble toward the vanished world whose prosopopoeiae they are: the old master talker questions the ignorant who doesn’t know how to read or write.Algorithm What is a table really. And above all cuts up the grand rhapsodic sentences and sections of encyclopedia into elements and pieces. then that. Let’s take the divine theory he just borrowed from Pindar seriously again: and what if he too remembered an ancient knowledge? Socrates remembers the step-by-step procedures of algorithmic thought. has allowed calculating in one’s head to be done more easily. Paideia—education and history—goes through three states: the philosopher-king. Arithmetic and Geometric Algebra are hidden in forgetfulness. and he represents it in his role and his state of being a man who talks and doesn’t write. and the slave. As a result. remembered by the one who is scorned. his language and above all his state to the rank to which the ancient science has fallen: to the order of childhood. since the latter two can substitute for each other. the easiest to retrieve. therefore he can from then on judge as he likes knowledge and its history by making both of them begin with him. he wants to walk step-by- step. and the ignorant. but Plato. ignorance and servitude. Socrates. a prudent and circumspect method or course. In other words. Since the night of the times in the Fertile Crescent. without ever taking his eyes off the previous link when he passes on to the following link and going back straightaway if he happens to skip one. A foot soldier. it remains true that he does not know. He recalls a knowledge that Platonism hides and scorns. Socrates only knows these procedures. The game isn’t played with two. Meno. Let’s first put this beyond dispute before passing on to that which will be examined in the same way. The philosopher reserves for himself the metalan- guage in which the new relation of the pure and the concrete is defined. a pedestrian. But Socrates also remembers when he says he does not know. privileged. precisely the one that determines a double square by the diagonal of the simple initial square. to the camp of the concrete in relation to the abstract. The slave follows the multiplication table and the Pythagorean table and the gnomon: he therefore remembers. dividing by two. but with three: not Socrates. he doubts and seeks and questions. First this. behind geometry. returning then to square three after the abrupt deviation from two to four. if not a memory. the soldier-pedestrian and FIRST IN PHILOSOPHY: THE IGNORANT SLAVE BOY   167 .

and 16 along the diagonal. Algorithmic thought is engulfed in forgetfulness and no longer consti- tutes. whereas the child slave hasn’t left the ancient Pythagoreans. pure mathematics. anything but the prehistory of science. Let’s not repeat: artificial intelligence. But while the second one may be beaten in the Greek battle. like the child. he counts in his head the integers in the traditional algorithm. Geometry supplements its misfires. nor between 4. like the slave. controlled irrationality: here comes the diagonal. the contemptible arithmetic of merchants and producers.4 It invents another world teeming with numbers whose count and memory are quickly lost. according to the ancient division. marveling. on the side of the Arabs during the Middle Ages. as for the slave. and doesn’t write.the manservant or the field worker. Artificializable. Socrates doesn’t know anything. finally today when we’re learning to economize thought by winning on both fronts: the one where the light of the Platonic sun still shines. Geometry But the new geometry reveals its gaps: no number is found on the gnomon between 3 and 4 on the sides. an ancient moment immersed in oral methods and step- by-step procedures. He forms the link between the reigns. here comes the Royal Weaver whose portrait closes the Statesman. nullifies a knowledge linked to recol- lection. It’s no longer a memory. a new abstract world. In the past. still reasoning in the ancient state. while Socrates. A temporary end to the struggle that opposes abstraction and memory. holding hands. like a messenger. Plato thinks in the universe of geometry—pure space. discovers the new world of the square bearing the diagonal around around its neck. but suddenly reach. let’s remember. rigorous metric. Plato haunts our thoughts that we cannot get out of our heads. architects of algorithms more than geometers. like the multiplication table. the alogos combined with the logos and mixed with it. or rather we inhabit those he conceived. who were still tied to the Babylonian tables. 168   GEOMETRY . algorithmic thought no doubt amounted to such memories. without writing. it never- theless continues the war. with the greatest Enlightenment mathematicians such as Pascal and Leibniz. they both retain the ancient mode. both considered as economies of thought: the first one wins where the second flees. knowledge perhaps amounted to memory. but rather: artificial memory. but also the one where memory has subjugated the very speed of this light. The young slave remembers the gnomon and its tabular laws because it functions like a memory. which Plato and we remember through them. with its counting rhymes. 9.

we understand nothing before remembering the origin of the torpedo: this fish is so named because it plunges us not into a stupor but into a torpor. and Socrates. returns to three and ends up at nine. The conduct of the discussion suddenly bifurcates from arithmetic to geometry: “if you prefer not to calculate. the name narke. which links it to narcosis and our narcotics. The honest slave answers four or three feet. two shots that went past their mark. But when the diagonal as the side of the doubled square comes up. But again we understand nothing if beyond the Latin origin we don’t remember that the torpedo bears. Here is a strange pharmacy. The first attempt with the even. He asked for the length of the side. biochemistry. but didn’t measure it. The two errors by excess took place by measuring the side of the square by means of whole numbers: the slave counts four and finds sixteen. the second one by the odd. manifestly. We clarify this experience by means of several sciences: electrostatics. A measurement is required of him. Narcotics Dead end. troubles him. Socrates cheats: he knows he won’t find the exact length. As though there were two histories of science. The number sought then will be neither this even nor that odd. neurology. in Greek. had followed the same path as science itself. Interrogatives and demonstratives have now quit quantification so as to qualify what is shown. But ourselves. an entire spread of a refined spectrum. The metaphor expresses the contradiction and confusion the philosopher’s interlocutor finds himself in at that juncture. the dialogue stops. in its history. in return. reminds Meno of his comparison to the torpedo.Objective slaves work inside computers: the entire ancient dialogue follows procedures easily inscribed in software. The shock issuing from contact with the animal appears to us today to be electrochemical. then show!” Socrates cheats. He did indeed find the side. Our pharmacy of narcotics brings us back to the torpedo as though language. as an interlude. By touching it everyone passes out or seems to go to sleep. difficulty. nothing but quality is spoken of: on which line is the double area square constructed? On this one. FIRST IN PHILOSOPHY: THE IGNORANT SLAVE BOY   169 . No one asks the asker: how long? He questions the ignorant about a content regarding which no one. he gives a quantity. parallel: the one that relates the manipulations of physiology and the one that remembers the Latin torpedo and the Greek narcosis. which for at least two centuries has made experiment after exper- iment regarding this stunning fish.

The first reductio ad absurdum. √2 therefore cannot be put into the form m/n. So m2 is even. but Plato names an animal in such a way that we understand something which has to do with our chemistry. and m is as well. indicates exactly the bifurcation. Therefore n is odd. but also with his own. called pharmaceutical. Narcosis-Narcissus bears the name of the fish. which is impossible. Narcosis maintains the same relation with the lone individual that the archaic expelled victim. Sometimes the history of science requires only a memory: the artificial one of language. Let’s write this value as m/n supposing this “fraction” reduced to its simplest expression. from which we derive: m2 = 2n2. “If you cannot calculate. Therefore: √2 = m/n. By the Pythagorean theorem. does with the collective. strictly speaking. Let there be a square with a side of 1 and its diagonal b. We understand through our science something which has to do with electricity. The unsayable logos Let’s summarize the demonstration given above in detail and more abstractly.5 This is what happens at the logical moment of contradiction. then show”: this phrase by Socrates. The torpedo puts to sleep like a narcotic. Narcissus finally becomes fascinated with himself to the point of falling asleep. Since 12 = 1 and 22 = 4. rational numbers. This is the case for m2. hence b = √2. or bears this animal within himself and electrocutes himself like a totally solitary pharmakon without society or environment. totally enclosed within himself. space lets lengths be seen that calculation no longer under- stands. or apagogic proof. with our pharmacy. 170   GEOMETRY . before his image reflected in the smooth waters of a spring. b2 = 12 + 12 = 2. which only allowed integers or. causes the failure of primitive Pythagorean arithmetic. Suddenly. therefore n is even. b has a value between 1 and 2. Consequently n is odd and even. which Plato knew poorly. more clever or profound than it appears. Now an even square is divisible by 4. when precisely the third must be expelled: third term or third man? The metaphor of the torpedo reveals the tragic origin of the principle of the excluded middle. therefore 2n is also divisible by four. 2 So n2 is even.the narcotic sleep and the strange torpor into which the electrical shock plunges us.

of linguistic and artificial memory. of the sayable by the unsayable. before geometry. 4. If you prefer not to do calculations. The emergence of ideal figures As faithful and refined as the reconstruction by algorithms of Greek mathe- matics in its beginnings presents itself. then show! This is an origin sentence. indemonstrable. 16 … through the numbers we now call perfect squares. the fact remains that this latter tears FIRST IN PHILOSOPHY: THE IGNORANT SLAVE BOY   171 . a torpedoing of artifice. The proof demonstrates that numbers make impossible what space evidently makes possible. a new mathematics is born outside the logos when this mathematics diverges from it and can rigorously measure this divergence. assayer and touchstone. 9. Socrates’ proof demonstrates that space makes possible what numbers make impossible: they both pass through the even and the odd. the archaic and very imperfect science of the perfect relation. In its demonstrative authenticity. or seduced: fascinated by torpor. don’t count any more. of algorithmic thought. Certainly. deviating: I did indeed speak about bifurcation. The schema is drawn by whole numbers. in the other direction. It merely counted.6 The gnomon only knows perfect squares: the perfect science of the logos. Show. of algorithmic thought. of language by science. One can ask for or invent knowledge unknown to this memory. The existence of knowledge outside the gnomon authorizes that we seek what we do not know—what knowledge itself does not know. and you will demonstrate! Inventing geometry and demonstration consists in filling in the gnomon’s gaps. before apagogic proof. Formerly judge. Now. before the irrational. This is the lightning strike from the torpedo. of the logos by the alogos. those of knowledge. ignorant of irrational numbers. show the diagonal! Here it is: it passes through 1. Therefore the gnomon doesn’t know everything. A torpedoing of the old practices. This latter doesn’t demonstrate. the gnomon no longer decides or knows. show then the diagonal-side of a square with an area of eight feet! It is lacking: not showable. “Apagogic” also signifies led outside the straight path. ignorant like a child slave. stupid twice over. Deliverance! Knowledge exists outside of memory. of their memory: of counting by space. of artificial intelligence. what memory hasn’t recorded. if I may. which bears the name of that very thing which knows. Come. odds and evens: the young slave followed them. contradictory. The dialogue remembers the apagogic proof and climbs back up it. There is only counting. There is no demonstration before the Greeks. excluded. And the torpedo electrocutes by contradiction or absurdity.

From the step-by-step process to the ban on not making any step that isn’t foreseen in advance. the step-by-step procedure— you can say that again—the repetition that is repeated. for variable and profound thoughts about the rational numbers and the irrational numbers issuing from the duplication of the square or from that of the cube. the practical and simple finality of a mechanism. in other words. ideal objects: of another. infinitely withdrawn world. in the etymological sense of a traced-out path. So a method can be imagined. algorithmic thought can all the same go farther than arithmetic. In other words. Observe with what precision all the elements of an algorithm are put in place: the path or method to reach a goal. the exact measurement of the segment traveled. each follows a way. And what if they led us from one to the other infinitely? The arrow flying from the bow to the target or Achilles whose running endeavors to catch up to the tortoise.itself away from such countings through the emergence of lines. Algorithmic thought or practice accounts for the theory of numbers. The latter prepares the former in history. whether cube or square. The lightning-fast passage from algorithm to abstraction The Eleatic school has contributed in a decisive way to filling in the trench that seems to separate the formula from rigor and the usual space from the ideal expanse in which the new objects manifest their appearance. Formally speaking. We must now understand the emergence of these idealities. sides without depth and solids that are rigorous. It doesn’t go just anywhere and doesn’t pass through just any stages. volumes. the distance doesn’t seem insurmountable. for its step-by-step procedures consistently attest to the delib- erate and controlled security of its approaches. like the hare in Aesop’s fable but without any hope of success. transparent or perfect. a method. which extends its process to more complex or more general rules that would allow to advance what would be foreseen in a program given beforehand and only what would be found there to the exclusion of all else. but presupposes here. the decomposition of the process into elements. in the figure and 172   GEOMETRY . the theory and practice of demonstration presupposes an algorithm. for measurement. The algorithmic procedure would then present a first simple example of what a formal demonstration would subsequently become. abstract space. Zeno’s famous paradoxes allow their dramatization to be forgotten in favor of their formation. inexistent before the Greek dawn.

reveals an algorithmic thought. suddenly seized by a very new finality. form at the outset. either around Abdera in one century’s time or during the seventeenth century after two millennia. the very probable derivation from a fable.the form. For the first time a process sure of its result as well as a good formula for measuring are halted. all those places where one remains or lives are discredited in favor of the single one that one heads for without ever reaching. as though Achilles or the arrow were carrying out the subtraction in moving. a point filtered by every station passed. both tied to the sticky algorithm. Neither the champion runner nor the sagittal point reach their goal. The entire dramatization then. Observe as well a certain imitation of anthyphairesis or alternative algorithmic subtraction. and which removes here half of the whole. then half of the remainder. Observe lastly. in the scene and for number. Limits The arrow’s or Achilles’ path no longer tends toward the prescribed goal but bifurcates. speed no longer being of any use. half of the remainder after that. the arrow departs and flies. the two vectors get stuck in the segment’s narrow but abyssal mud hole. in FIRST IN PHILOSOPHY: THE IGNORANT SLAVE BOY   173 . One will laugh at the courageous hero. divides the segment by a single dichotomy. a derisory image of the cowardly beast. Do we already hear hints of Platonism? The procedure. how much the infini- tesimal algorithm still to be born. in the other direction of time. by virtue of their perfect functioning itself and in an excellent and luminous example. distinguishing this point from all the others. flying. A halted algorithm Achilles runs or walks. the step-by-step makes no headway with no possible cease. Repetition only engenders repetition. Running. the entire formula fails. those where one arrives or can arrive are disqualified. issuing from the tradition. This means that the places one passes through or can pass through are eliminated or subtracted. will innovate little with respect to these procedures. quite simple in the end. but at the same time aiming at a single point at the limit of all the points actually traveled or possible. In a canonical manner Zeno puts the traditional metrology to death: the ancient algorithm of the Fertile Crescent passed away in Elea. the same action to be done after the same action done. and so on.

Here is the first intelligible place. the flying arrow with which you write on the page. reach them. contributes to describing and founding it. approxi- mation.sum: all the points and this one. just as Zeno’s dramati- zation infinitely leads from the concrete representation or from the metric formula to the proximity. You hold in your hand the stylus. we must conceive. in other words the spear itself. 174   GEOMETRY . the man of this world. and it can’t inscribe the point it’s always running after. subtracted to the point of exhaustion from all apprehension: from visited or visitable points to the invisible and inaccessible goal. quite far from criticizing or destroying the intelligible abstract place of ideas and forms. can we conceive of the three of them. to the limit of non-representable ideality and which cannot be drawn or written. the theoretical and the concrete together. you can actually or virtually see and touch. Achilles or the tip crossed it. leave them. that the arrow’s tip will not pierce. If you prick it on the piece of paper or the sand. to think him. by algorithm. How can we conceive both of them. alive and well and individuated with a hundred characteristic marks. in another world entirely separated from this one. cross them. a point emerges. that Achilles will never see. without a fourth man who …? This argument ad infinitum. Aristotle replies. The former participates in the latter. stay in them. that can’t be it. the world or path of these places remaining open to running and flying. tread with your feet concrete places. intangible. even exactness. without forming the abstract idea of a third in which they will participate? And how. It emerges from the immense sea of the other points. and you will not mark on their orbit the place toward which everyone is rushing: no one can write or draw it. So trace the trajectory of the hero or the flight of the vector on the sand. Geometric abstraction becomes the limit of the infinite sum of algorithmic subtractions. Infinite series of thirds Here is someone of such and such an appearance or such and such an age. that no one will live in. the one from the first theory and the second one from the second theory. once again. borders immediately on another world that’s infinitely distant. called the third man. at the end of this short path equal to the longest possible path. On the other. inaccessible. an idea of man or the ideal man. On the one hand. The world that’s as measurable as you please. Plato says. atopic. that’s without dimension since the metric exhausts itself reaching it: an absent hole in the drawing.

Achilles must pass through the middle of the segment. endlessly leaving the halted algorithms behind them. in a figure that ceaselessly unfolds or fits into itself. from worlds to worlds fleeing upstream and from recommenced forgetfulnesses to missing memories. doubles a length and then subtracts a part from it. emerges from an infinite method or way along which Achilles and the arrow precede and guide us. under Socrates’ torpedo. the model of the theoretical abstract required by Plato to think or exist or perceive. A class of problems called the third man Here is. entering into the class of the third man. The definition of the geometrical abstract. Interminably. The slave thinks algorithmi- cally. mathematical and philosophical. in inventing it. the young ignorant slave who. an infinite implication of diagonals. Plato claims that he remembers a forgotten world since he knows without having learned. The abstract lies at the bottom of this abyss. of sides or poisonous Socrateses. proves the duplication of the square by constructing the irrational diagonal. incapable of arriving all by himself at the diagonal that can and can’t be drawn. alive and well. Generalization Zeno’s reasoning repeats itself: before arriving at the goal. the master doesn’t forget geometry. present there but irrational. but before that cross the quarter FIRST IN PHILOSOPHY: THE IGNORANT SLAVE BOY   175 . in its repeated square. counts. a young slave being reborn from his ignorance calculates. the set of questions and problems. we stage again the other slave from the other world in the process of calculating the area of another square. a scene that in turn bears en abyme.7 We have just remembered. infinitely distant. Without any intervention from Aristotle. but infinitely near.

The initial point assumes the same status as the terminal one. then just any point: so every segment becomes ideal. the sum of all forms. By the same step-by-step processes. so that he can’t start.and even before that reach the eighth. Exclusion has purged everything. Here is the last. emptied of every obstacle by the champion’s running or by the bad arrow’s path: nothing remains there. or the first white box. as in Thales’ tetrahedron. The set of these proofs seems paradoxical because the elements which emerge from it are far removed from common opinion. The flowing of a very large narrative can begin. 176   GEOMETRY . the paradox touches the middle point. as in the Earth. as in the interval before Diogenes’ gaze. and so on infinitely.

water. Sets of initial notes The term Elements. m. just as alphabet recites or spells the first Greek letters: alpha. those of grammar. beta or as solfeggio sings the notes: sol. n. after the manner of Empedocles who uses for them the term rhizome: root. But in addition to these elements of written language it designates those of the world with which this book started. which translates into Latin and into a few other languages the title used by Euclid and no doubt before him by Hippocrates of Chios. Meditating on the origins. . of a knowledge sometimes amounts then to inventing the origins of an authentic knowledge: this consecrates the heuristic value of the Elements and furnishes a criterion for evaluating said attempt. for the authentic title Stoicheia indeed means letters. but also those of the universe. If the present book doesn’t conclude about a new knowledge it must without hesitation be thrown in the fire. planets. fa. the radical origin of things. has as its origin the letters l. so it happened that a commentary on Euclid’s Elements in turn became a geometry.7  FIRST IN LOGIC: THE ELEMENT The automatic origin and the return to sociopolitical origins Just as it sometimes happens that a commentary on the Bible becomes in turn a Bible. here logical. understood precisely as elements of the syllable or the word. earth. stars.

element: point. punctual elements of things. the Elements of geometry also consist of points and lines that we must learn how to draw. says of the elements of geometry that they constitute its subject since those who teach or learn it begin with them: fundaments or rudiments. trochees. numbers in every base. which uses these terms. If a supposed knowledge lacks them. the verb steicho designates the act of moving forward in ranks. like yesterday. a dialogue from tragedy in which the interlocutors answer each other verse for verse and as though step-by-step. as we see. column or row. amino acids … Our memory retains them 178   GEOMETRY . stichomythia. in general a note. axioms. the objects themselves don’t precede their signs. unanalyzable and to be combined. Again. English2 has retained from this family only certain technical words: distich. like Aristotle. what is an element? This mark. this trace. the dash. If it shows them. it’s useless to acquire or teach it—it won’t educate anyone. Prosody. forces and corpuscles. These are the condi- tions of its authenticity. Unlike the hard sciences. I dream of an always present science of the elements. we see collected in similar tables: letters of alphabets. In addition.nouns or verbs. even before learning that we can’t. like an army in battle line formation. Today. To my knowledge. in well-ordered lines and columns. it’s worth the trouble to learn and diffuse it. of rhetoric. Proclus. a group of two verses aligned one under the other or a couplet of a hexameter or a pentameter. often present themselves as letters or numbers. anapaests by short and long syllables using points and lines. It doesn’t seem then as though the Ancients sought or thought elements that were absolutely final or first: they are found distributed everywhere. and finally of hoped-for invention. the line. like the Morse alphabet. And in the plural: a set of these notes. of genuine education. depending. so that the noun corresponds to the line. truth functions. Conversely. atoms. simple bodies. Abstract lines1 Corresponding to this noun. the origin of the social sciences doesn’t pose any problems to philosophy: they don’t let any element be seen. generally grouped in a table of points and lines. counts dactyls. it doesn’t seem that one discipline has sought supremacy: neither language nor the sciences win out over things. Atom. of logic. a set of points. line. The night sky displays. of geometry … In this list or this table. the only notes it is sufficient really to transmit.

the median night. literally its lines. the automaton and algorithms. the obliquity of the ecliptic. the Elements seem to confess an astronomical origin. or: the axis. is seen here at the border common to the dark and the bright. but above all the local mark that notes the hour. we suddenly think we’re reading who drew or traced them. As though. were discovered. standing like a statue coming out of the ground. the axis of the world and the latitude of the place … a range or table of elements for the map of the universe: again an artificial memory sculpted on the sundial. elements of cosmology around the gnomon and marked by it. spelling in turn the longest and the shortest day. time is defined as the boundary common to the shadow and the easily that they constitute. the Definitions just now allowed us to make out a static root or rather a statuary pedestal there. whether finite or indefinite. by themselves. its language. Initial postulates Even though the Ancients say nothing about it. mark or line of an extreme boundary. A trace of origin is made out in the semantic zone of the term “element. the gnomon again. the dash of bronze or gold that retains the memory of a fleeting instant. with ruler and compass: the straight line. the solstices and equinoxes. formal ones. scattered or ordered. a shadow. parallel FIRST IN LOGIC: THE ELEMENT   179 . remarkable. memories: objective ones. an artificial object writing on an artificial object. transmitted and progress: its memory in general. the Postulates allow us to trace the Elements of geometry. detaches itself from this so useful and coherent zone of meaning: stoicheion signifies the needle that marks the shadow on the sundial. its basis. Here is the notch. by their verbs and nouns. Let’s continue. a thing writing on a thing. a date.” Among the lines on the table. But a single sense. logical sense but also form a memory in the triple sense of history—hence the commentaries—. Thus Euclid’s Elements construct a system in the ordinary. artificial ones. the circle. its driving force. A marvel of depth. What does the term “elements” designate all in all? That which a knowledge refers to constantly in order to be founded. here is the sequence of these stabilized marks. a light. a range of elements along the substylar line. This hour. In the same sense the old law tables had engraved the elements of the law. Who traces the elementary mark? Who writes the line? The Sun on the ground. on the sundial. which popular etymology associates with the horizon understood as limit. in this new sundial. By their title. deduced and founded.

short or curved lines. of a rigid form. in other words. The Definitions and Postulates construct the table of elements or lines in the formal. draw or trace them. in every sense: how are we to say in any other way that this element was included in it? Why does the theory of abstraction unfold its splendors in an imaginary space separating the crude senses from the pure understanding? What are sensa- tions and faculties of the mind going to do here when it’s simply a question of drawing lines by means of a ruler or a canon. by means of the two classic tools. What does it write? Strokes. 180   GEOMETRY .3 The abstract line without any dimension other than its own is extracted from the wooden or marble ruler. the real and intellectual elements of geometry. In other words: the element. the right angle. in a wooden. parallel lines and possible figures: they truly constitute the memory in which these atoms are enveloped and from which one can at leisure extract them. the sense in which it has since been understood. the capacity for constructing or tracing dashes. when one can ceaselessly trace them from that artificial memory as from a never lacking horn of plenty?4 Yes. the gnomon) let their concrete table be seen. points. But the compass and the ruler (or their sum. points.lines. the verb “abstract” has this truly elementary meaning. suitable for drawing lines or elements: the ruler and the compass. elements. the possibility. they contain or imply in some fashion an infinity of straight lines. is drawn from it. Euclid’s geometry as a system or development of a series of theorems starting from preposed beginnings can thus be considered an automaton. standing like a statue. And this doesn’t mean that its perfor- mance remains finite. right angles. that is to say. marks. Balance sheet: the element writes elements abstracted from elements: this is the beginning. Present in the title like the needle of the sundial. which bear in themselves and invariably preserve. in the Definitions like a statue in equilibrium. haunts the Postulates and makes them possible. Where are these elements? In the ruler and the compass or in their resultant. abstract them. Abstracting: drawing a line from said table. circles. the framing square. lines. points or circles. linguistic. traces. a right triangle in a semicircle. brazen or marble form. the artificial object never leaves us. the element. the framing square disappears since it suffices to inscribe. For this latter. We are still amazed at the interpretation of these things by minds and bodies. For who writes? The gnomon. the framing square thus splits up into two components. Called the gnomon above. pure or abstract sense of this term. Since they allow us to construct.

Careful: “you forget that geometrical equality rules. vain. competitive. but what characterizes the public. In order to understand this koine. hail it instead as holiness. operations or properties. the social bond. equality—in comparison. FIRST IN LOGIC: THE ELEMENT   181 . alas. doesn’t designate an ordinary or everyday denominator.From nature to culture or from the objective to the collective What should we think now in order to form a community? Equality: let no one get the better of anyone and may exchanges compensate each other. The set of equality’s descriptions or impli- cations. all-powerful. The word “Axioms” then is the worst possible translation for the Euclid’s genuine title: Common Notions. no doubt. Equality conditions community. One doesn’t need great human or social experience to learn that. “Common. one can’t speak of man in general except in this pitiful sentence. and is developed by this very fact. its attributes. we must take leave of the individual subject of thought in order to think a collective subject—which. in an innate way. that community which develops normal or elementary science by deducing and demonstrating from these beginnings. This notion and this operation are also and again equivalent to order. equality is essential if you want to found a community. but from this project. by right or by miracle. There is no knowledge without an invariance. a young dynamic executive. Hence the title Common Notions. justice. in particular. in addition.” Socrates inveighs against Gorgias (507e–508a). role or exchange—is the least widely shared thing in the world: in this sense.” consequently. Those who opt in favor of invariance vote for social order. If perchance you encounter it. harmony. a wolf thirsting for bloody power. Man. and shows him the surprising equivalence between geometry and equality. constitute indispensable conditions for establishing said community. quite the contrary. the least common. is not a man to man and doesn’t know how to act or think according to this truth. under which equality is treated. You think that we must strive to get the better of all the others: because you forget geometry. constitutes and founds the scientific community. That said. There is no science without constancy. This latter doesn’t come from each individual. without the equals sign. newly come out of the families and the Schools. One would have to blindly believe in an individual subject of thought to imagine that it’s a question here of notions that everyone carries and possesses from birth. genetically. among the gods as among men.

the equilibriums or reposes of the refined statics described by the Definitions. by the object. ruler. statue. the conditional is there. Foundations The transcendental is in Euclid’s beginnings. a myth. as well as the lines traced by the sun and the axis on the first earth evoked by geometry. in the intersubjectivity that’s poorly named and therefore poorly conceived starting from the individual subject. a tale. If the transcendental only adds an empty and sterile abstraction to the constructive idealities of geometry or subjective foundations to its formal fundaments. on the contrary. 182   GEOMETRY . by successive incli- nations. from this earth rises. the collective is conditioned. the Postulates describe what the gnomon—that framing square that has disappeared in favor of the ruler and compass—is used for. table. They only appear after the emergence of the object. the originary. sun. statues come out of the earth. Lastly. in the artificial. a cosmetic ornament. precisely the elementary. the funda- mental. nothing differentiates it from a fable. namely when the more than necessary conditions it brings out become sufficient. the Common Notions describe the conditions for establishing a community. as though they were extracted from them. in the manufactured things. and how it functions. earth. language itself leads us to call the lines [traits] drawn or constructed from these artificial objects abstract [abstraits]. the evidentness.The anthropology of geometry In total. which refer to the beginnings of geometry or express and repeat them. axis. They reside in the great objects of the natural world. smaller than it. lastly in the community. that whole of which each individual. but that’s beginning to form in front of the appearance. compass. The title itself brings back the gnomon. nor in the formal or the pure in the sense of Descartes and Kant. But they lie neither in the subjective nor in the a priori. in the absence of any subject in the modern sense. the emergence of these objects. only constitutes a part. on balance. they thus designate who draws the lines or rather in what objects these lines are implied or where they are extracted or abstracted from: artificial objects for the elements’ memory and their intelligence. If and when it exists. it encounters anthropology: so the genesis of the Elements is really located in the things of the world from which ensues a societal culture from which ensue the notions of science from which ensue the things of the world. upright like the axis: the episteme begins. Euclid’s beginnings imply their own anthropology.

This community thinks collec- tively. culture and nature. in fact. no doubt corresponds to the usual and tragic experience of the massive human events of history. For if this subject alone thought so. as a tribunal or a church and functions like them. On its side. to nature. The latter progress via heretics and outlaws. which gives the solitary the heroic role of encountering things in communication’s silence. the earth wouldn’t move. but doesn’t correspond in any way to the real newness of scientific practice in relation to these events. devoted to the things themselves. as though a founding myth of history or of the hagiography of science had impelled them to forget that science thinks as an assembly. the collective only constructs itself: our relations only have our relations as their object. to physics. all three of them regularly expelled. decides whether the Earth moves. as though this philosophy highlighted the exception by arrogantly ignoring what was becoming the common law or regulation of the community. only the church of experts verifying each other. if not yet into a profession. between the collective and the objects of the world. so that in fact the history of science evolves. We live all the more removed from the world to the extent that we become occupied with one another. One can take as a historical curiosity the paradoxical fact that on the exact dates when science begins to constitute itself into a group. The subject of this thought only becomes individual in extremely rare moments of crisis: when the threatened group takes in someone who had been excluded while pretending to believe it had sent him out in recon- naissance so as to invent or discover. Everything happens as though the Galileo affair had led the philosophers of knowledge to misinterpretation. a philosophy of the individual knowing subject appears. only the tribunal of the scientific assembly. the former via inventors. obscure and unknown up to this day. whereas it had. and there would be no science. as a repetition of the history of religion or of law. in its detail as in its general laws. However. Does the group as group rejoin the things themselves? If yes. how? Our philosophical tradition dictates that only the individual subject perceives or thinks and constitutes the objective.The usual collective and the scientific college The special conditions for the sciences—epistemological condi- tions—lie in the general conditions for knowledge—gnoseological conditions—themselves lying in the anthropological relations. There is nothing paradoxical in FIRST IN LOGIC: THE ELEMENT   183 . The verification and consensus of the community defined by this practice constitutes the subject of science. This division. expelled him. and not the isolated hero.

is suitable for certain fairly serious mental illnesses and all societies without exception whose relations are projected onto the environment. For in science the egalitarian group of peers. one 184   GEOMETRY . the agitations.this comparison: religion and law offer the first examples of a collective subject thinking an object that transcends and founds the relations of the community. a few temporal fluctuations in the sum. A transcendent god accompanies. as though this knowledge had as its operating condition the reciprocal recognition of the individuals thus equalized. remain eternally independent of what makes peoples run. its resumption and continuation. which assures that the world is equivalent to our representa- tions. and the redefinition of each relation constitutes the food it lives on. During this hazardous and monotonous time a paradoxical college suddenly appears which gives itself and thinks some object of the world existing independently of the networks—strings and knots—which ordinarily subjugate men to each other. Sociologies are right to claim that groups only know their own laws: that is how animal hordes and political animals behave. The set of its relations constitutes its definition. This music box doesn’t require any spring or program since every movement. at short distance or long. world and atoms in Lucretius’s text. indif- ferent to human relations. a result of the sum. the essential thing remaining to understand this place well. without taking any interest in them. It has no object external to its enclosure. whose metastable network always proves the sociologist right for demanding an autonomy for his science since the whole closes over itself and auto-produces itself. The natural object takes the place of God. Nothing goes beyond the strings. in all. whether of a peaceful solitary or an agitated plurality. as though there were no world. Idealism. in the sense that their doings. the chaos. fluctuations to which we sometimes give the name of history. immediately returns to the sum as the cause of a next movement. little marionettes that only thrash about due to the strings that tie them to each other so that the movement of one expresses or sums up. of its social environment. as though it went beyond them. recognizing each other as experts. from a certain angle that defines it. For in general the collective behaves as though its relations sufficed for it. has the same status as the cloud of atoms. science thinks as such and offers on the other hand guarantees that it considers objects of the world that transcend its relations. which assuredly doesn’t concern the individual but rather the collective. can even coexist with it in the same place. There’s nothing paradoxical in this double assertion: the absent God. This is an exception. This produces. constitutes the subject of knowledge. when physics is beginning.

Science forms a paradoxical realist group in the ordinarily idealist collective. but making possible. Religion is closed over what links men but is open on to the direct experience of God: in it the learned and the mystics confront each other. a chance exists that. There suddenly exist things and not only cases. the participants in the assembly might convert to the astronomical revolution. hence for it.of whose avatars will be this white box. Only a religious tribunal could hesitate on this occasion. No philosophy to this day. the entire stake resides in this very place. to my knowledge. The religious tribunal doesn’t give in. relate to a thing whose laws don’t in any way relate to our relations. and the jurists react as though in the presence of an enthusiast crying out his mystical intuition. Someone within it stands up and testifies that the earth moves. for the collective. In total. together. for it happens everyday that someone in a group behaves abnormally. In the Galileo affair. but can give in. Of course. The Galileo affair continues this canonical struggle. FIRST IN LOGIC: THE ELEMENT   185 . A tribunal only sits in order to dictate its law and only speaks performatively. and there is still no science. open on to such a place. accustomed as they are to debating real reasons. which never speaks performatively and in which the same debate is perpetuated. despite their claims. but a possibility opens up. But it gives the idea of creating a commission of experts responsible for the things themselves. closed as it is over cases. there exists an object or objects for us. An ordinary tribunal lacks such a place and cannot give in. Condemning no doubt. reasons of Real Presence without any relation to their own relations. the pure space of geometry. not things. for this society whose iron law usually consists in acting as though they didn’t exist. Let someone stand up in the middle and testify that the earth moves. hence of a long historical time. there is still no science. But an assembled church has already prepared this place. the source of an endless discourse. this place doesn’t exist: there are cases. Of course the philosophy that would allow us to think this difficult thing would require thinking that white box or transcendent place where God coexists with the objects of the world. In it we. allows us to think such an event since the tradition dictates to us that an object of knowledge only exists for an individual subject and since the collective can’t know objectively because it has no object besides its relations. another tribunal next to the old tribunal: this is science. mystical experience with experimentation. but will give in. Scientists believe in the existence of an outside world the way the religious believe in God: neither of the two can prove it but can’t practice faith or science without this foundation.

removed its obstacles. heavy and weighty things coming slowly out of the earth like statues risen from the dead. from the ruler or the compass. These are the conditions or foundations of science. Abstraction is drawn from artifice and history from what comes from it and so on. because the world is its transcendental condition. it is meant that physics only becomes a science if it is said in mathematical language. The bomb thunders the death of the world scarcely a half-century after the death of God. Now we find ourselves obliged to write a philosophy of the death pangs of transcendental objectivity—and of its rebirth. as abstract as you please since productive of abstraction. a world and a group. the mark of time in space. rulers or strings. withdrew. In this trivial sense. whether as such or manufactured. In total. One cannot take as a historical curiosity the fatal and tragic fact that on the exact dates when the death of God was announced the objective world lowered its barriers. the one measured or described in fact by all the geometries and topologies of history. artificial objects. Thus it founds technology as well since it is a technology. today. Abstraction creates a continuous path that quite simply resembles history here. abstract or concrete. there exists a transcendental we that has as its object a transcendental earth. in reading Euclid’s Elements in this way. In reading the beginnings of mathematics elementarily. But. As concrete as the world and the things are. These are the foundations of scientific knowledge in general. of a consensus: the agreement about the truth could never happen without equality. The two transcendances leave the same place at about the same time. ancient and future. shadow and light. as well as the object. the conditions of constitution of a community. objective memories implying the elements or lines that are drawn or abstracted from them. in short. canons. Pure geometry is born from the canon. beginnings in history and preliminaries for the system. But a foundation goes deeper. 186   GEOMETRY . as other even more abstract and purer geometries will later come from Euclid’s geometry and its beginnings. began to lose its battles against our aggressive and triumphant technologies. humiliated. behind our representations. entered into its death pangs. Very well. since it also founds all the sciences. a swallowed-up world is discovered whose memory has been forgotten: a sun and an earth. Thus this geometry founds physics because it is a physics. in a fan that’s gently unfolded. lightened cruel and old Necessity. on the other hand. Geometry’s Earth Mathematics founds physics: a broad and vague assertion.

Conditions of a religious or metaphysical type are more decisive than economic and social reasons. This conflict haunts the origin of all our knowledge. nomos Yet why didn’t the Greeks invent mathematical physics? The answer people sometimes give is: because of the presence of slaves. All mythologies and polytheistic religions are social sciences in an exquisite way. We take an interest in our own relations well before taking an interest in the world. it is fruitful to think that the social sciences today impose polytheisms. Anterior in time and conditions to physics. But above all the Greeks didn’t invent physics because of the social sciences: the latter preceded the former. infinitely more precise. history slowly catches up to the world. each in its own department: when a hamadryad guards each tree. The alliance. phusis. that we still believe that our ancestors were first and foremost afraid of thunder. effective and sensible than what we call by that name today. the social sciences prevented it from appearing. men wait for all of history before becoming physicists. The one God must be waited for in order for the expanse to suddenly empty and for no locality to obstruct the homogeneous universe. lastly. A Being beyond beings. when this same Physics emerged. To reach the world and then physics. Holland and France? Do they think that the steam engine and thermodynamics appeared in the last century when the exploitation of men by those who don’t believe they are their fellow creatures had ceased? The Greeks would have hesitated before physical law because little gods held ground in space. of atmospheric phenomena or the night. Sociologists first.Logos. they were afraid of their enemies. a misinterpretation imposed by our modernity. of a formula with experimentable phenomena presupposes that the dogma of the Incarnation has been accepted. We have interpreted religions and mythologies in terms of the natural sciences for so long. No. a thousand singularities oppose the passage of the general rule. when the sea swarms with sirens and the meadows with fauns. this is a smooth universal. of the sterility of fallow lands. the integral of all the white boxes. he who alienates his arms does without tools and contents himself with contemplating. Conversely. Transparency and unicity suppress all singularity. Not so fast. FIRST IN LOGIC: THE ELEMENT   187 . it was first of all necessary to cross this screen woven by the collectives themselves. when one nymph per spring watches over the expansion of the waters. which makes the natural sciences and technologies possible. Conversely. Do they believe that during the Renaissance. the serfs had disappeared from Italy.

representing the social body. water or atoms. all-powerful. the tax base. so that only the relations of the world to the world and those of the thing to itself are preserved. disqualified. To accept it another transcendence will be needed. A strange thing full of only water. and Thales measures it without the proportion discovered in any way taking into account the 188   GEOMETRY . has his pyramid built stone by stone by the people. in Greek and in Latin. The world appears. starting from this transcendence. of course consists in leaving the polytheistic religions and mythology. A world exists outside of the closed societies. it nullifies. leaving the crushing constraints of society. goes. takes place. Even the assessment. in which things are born. things without human causes. by the harpedonaptai. fire. which twice repeats. Among the infant physicists. without any rule or law imposed by a king or a god. No divinity for gravity is known. Everyone on the contrary quantifies what passes through our relations. The new logos becomes the relation between two former logoi or statements. a religion that urges leaving the sacred. and its constant errors of approximation always go in the same direction: the interest of the pharaoh or the strongest. that is to say. speaks without any human mouth like an outlaw law. and which remains one incidentally. water— totally independent of our relations of will or power.” which means instead: to submit to customs. proportion or relation. without the city: can such an apoliticism be endured in the ancient polis? No. is born. The rational logos. what is taken for a voluntary affirmation of atheism. This first geometry doesn’t measure just any land. fire. of the cultivable fields whose boundaries the Nile’s floods had erased or overturned sought to end disputes between neighbors by the force of the state and to re-establish the cadaster in its integrity. commerce or salaries: no known problem of measurement in the entire Fertile Crescent addresses nature. outside the city. When the logos becomes a proportion. The pharaoh Khufu. divine. through the effect of its relation—rather like the way a fraction is reduced to its simplest expression—the mouths that say it and the orders that impose it. Numbers at first code taxes. as though bodies didn’t fall yet. but rather balances credits and debits. Objects exist whose appearance and birth don’t depend on us and which develop all by themselves in relation with other objects of the world. but insofar as they express and consecrate social relations: we commit a serious mistranslation when we render the Greek verb νομίζειν [nomizein] as “consider. that is to say. that is Thales’ quasi monotheistic inauguration: the Ionian physicists discovered objects—air.

Misfortune had it and still has it that this logos unendurable to kings. Despite or due to the Timaeus’s effort the inaugural invention of a world-object independent of us again collapses into the collective. irresistibly: an almost inevitable return to archaism. language. the social sciences. What remains is an empty polyhedron. a luminous and transparent box. a law or an order exists that doesn’t know or isn’t known by social order or law. which the Greeks saw or suffered as we suffer it. and the pharaoh dies anew. The proportion-logos returns into discourse and the social enclosure: irrational or rational. educates the Republic’s guardians.king. societies. and Socrates crushed Callicles in the Gorgias through the geometrical equality that’s all-powerful among the gods and men. philosophy would often be repatriated into the mouths and wills of power. Politics. it orders the Statesman’s weaving. Proportion-logos chases out discourse-logos. his order. FIRST IN LOGIC: THE ELEMENT   189 . his tomb or this relation of the one to the political multiple. It becomes mathematics for the social sciences again. myths together and quite plainly prevented mathematical physics from appearing.

190 .


192 .

in other words surveyors or geometers. Everyone returned home to attend to their work. the peasant’s local. they said. The positivist generations that preceded us only dreamed of origins starting from nature or from the physical. The first interpretation of Herodotus’s history or tale. rice and wheat. Naturalist origins Our predecessors read his narrative and have transmitted to us this legend: the regular time come. . agrarian or cultivatable patch of land: the pagus precedes the page and the map. and floods or inundations. at the cost of labor and sowing.8  THE MEASUREMENT OF THE EARTH: HERODOTUS What is geometry. the Nile’s floods drowned the boundaries of the cultivable fields in the alluvial valley fertilized by the river: hence. they therefore thought the origin of geometry as the emergence of a natural science. Herodotus gives a good answer to this question. the religions of the first gods. What earth is being named? Come back from his trip to Egypt. resulted from ancestral terrors inspired by the world. again and finally? The measurement of the earth. royal officials. It’s less a question here of its birth than of its etymology: of the origin of its name. called harpedonaptai. measured anew the lands mixed with mud and silt in order to redistribute and reassign their parts. Life resumed. the fires of volcanoes or thunderstorms. in which the earth simply and merely signifies the arable zone from which the swing plow draws. the physicalist version. with the low-water flow.

to the zero time. We have returned here to Anaximander’s meditations. that science of a space so distinct from cereal fields. exactly to nature. the post of the social sciences. correct measurement reorders the earth and makes it be reborn to culture. in its totality. Or of nature itself: in plowing the valley with its waters the flood brings the earth back to disorder. no geometry lastly. no definition hemming in a domain. for measurement and emergence appear at the same time departing from [à partir de] chaos: “departing from. For decision about boundaries and borders appears to be original: without it there can be no oasis separated from the desert. at the beginning since it by itself expresses birth? In another context it is written in Genesis that God separated the earth from the primal waters and gave it bounds. How could we not find nature. also means dividing up [répartition]. Culturalist origins Whence came my generation’s discourse. nor logic. no sacred or profane space. whose completeness and sufficiency sum up the second part of this book. at least in the sense of cultivation. Consequently. whose demonstration completed the physicalist version come from the hard 194   GEOMETRY . Does this version.1 But here the earth leaves the local field and agrarian activities in order to designate already one of the four elements of the globe said to be terres- trial. in fact suffice? Does it succeed in saying the origin of the Greeks’ abstract science? No. the one isolated from the other by the priests’ gestures. what I want to demonstrate. a generation which held. At the beginning of time. twice over. nor clearings—piercing the forest—in which the peasants devote themselves to agriculture. we find the confusion of the flood followed by division [partage]: the conditions for definition. Even though we may know how to mark out the boundaries of the squares of culture between each other and to contemplate the shores that separate the continents from the sea. to the origin’s chaos. therefore no precise language about which to agree. in the sense this word takes on if one means that the things are preparing to be born. to both questions. in the same way. for more than a half-century more or less. as though tautologically. we still have made no progress in geometry.” which signifies beginning. we have only discovered the origin of the general condi- tions of a measurement. at least in the metric sense.

Who decides? The legislator or whoever says or follows jurisprudence and has it be applied. found his neighbors satisfied with the boundaries of their THE MEASUREMENT OF THE EARTH: HERODOTUS   195 . properties disappeared at the same time: going back over the now chaotic terrain. as though precision [justesse] succeeded even better than justice. with this bit of rope in his hand. which is going to. the same delimitation by boundaries allows the royal cadaster to put everyone in their place and to assess the tax base—that is public and tax law. as for it. both are born with the notion of bound. to create a boundary? The pharaoh. a legal contract imposes itself and first brings everyone concerned into agreement. This latter person then first carries out the originary gesture from which geometry is born. Moreover. again. the one evoked by the terms contract or obligation. and for law.sciences with the ad hominem question: who originally makes the decision to divide up the lands. for geometry. the king. which implies properties. preceded precision. having enclosed a piece of land. or rather. in the temple for example. law and science. but justice. border and definition. whoever the physical person sent by the pharaoh might be. to cut up. the harpedonaptai distribute them and therefore cause the erased law to be reborn. attaches the cord: his mysterious title breaks down into two words. while identifying it with itself. later produce a new agreement among those who demonstrate. delimits the profane and the sacred. the proprietor: analytic thought is rooted in the same word and the same operation. since the flood erased the limits and borders of the cultivable fields. From the first part of this work. with analytic thought. holds. Sesostris or his officials. The first priest who. those of the square or the diamond. The harpedonaptes or surveyor draws. The law reappears at the same time as geometry. Anaximander now returns along with the indefinite preceding the definition of precise form. The one that. a thought from which two branches come. the law of exactly enclosing a piece of land and allocating it—this is civil and private law. a noun that says the bond and a verb that says he fastens it. But. and on the same terrain. plus the Egyptian priests from whom Herodotus derives his narrative. The assigning of boundaries indeed makes the disputes between neighbors stop—this is property law. the harpedonaptes or mysterious geometer who in fact reconstructs them. In the beginning is this rope. Before the scientific consensus on the precision of the cutting or the necessity in the demonstration. on this point. Laws proliferate therefore in this origin legend in which laws alone make the decision and cut up the fields.

to two types of law … soon. measure and portion. or rather: a common origin. the black one of the silt and the white or gray one on the grimoire. the earth remains the one that the farmer plows and sows. forms. inert and living on the one hand. that of phusis. to things and to men. a pact that becomes all the better as its terms are refined. the order issuing from disordered mixture. an object then. cases. an object that is firstly part of the world as such and thus subject to physical and natural laws and transformed by technol- ogies whose concrete solids obey the same laws. it becomes the cadaster. Geometry. single and double. abstract and sacred. of law and geometry—through the fixedness of the contract. as though the Greeks had drawn toward science a process of emergence of order that the Egyptians had been directing toward the forms of procedure. physical or formal. a certain equilibrium of precision [justesse] and justice. the hard one and the soft one. as we will have to 196   GEOMETRY .common enclosure. Before this origin we can only imagine the flood. the map. Nature and culture. agricultural or state. Here are two earths. collective and social on the other. gathers them together. through the exactness and rigor of the drawing. We are indeed returning to the beginning of this book. every science confused In the first version. the commentary would have concluded that this was the birth of the law. based on it. whose indefinite chaos mixes men without state or civil society. the great primal or recursive deluge of the waters. tax. nourishing or judicial. law. which signifies truth. public. lastly the smooth rectitude of a plane. in the Greek manner. which derives from Anaximander. an object secondly of the laws issuing from diverse kinds of laws. drawn on papyrus and intended for fiscal administration so it can calculate the tax base. in the other one. administrative. If some Egyptian chronicler had written this history. concluded for a long time. through the correspondence between the drawing’s precision and the contract’s stability. and confuses the subjects. from nomos and the most recent teachings. Law precedes science and perhaps engenders it. as the values become precise. the things of the world. relations of allocation. referring to the world and the state. as the parts are exactly cut up. and not Herodotus. flows back toward the Egyptian Maat. morality. These requisites characterize the contract defined by the jurist just as much as the one from which science is born. hardware or software. was the true founder of analytic thought and. physi- ological or legislative.

learn. The earth for the feet and the one for the powerful. this latter would come to find him and notify him of what had happened. A uniform plane. and about power. the priests said. passes over the fields. The original or originary text In chapter 109 of Book II of the Histories. but we can’t project the properties of the earth onto the water or the distinctions of the drop in the water level onto the blindness of the flood. So at the origin one of these two earths would have covered over the other if the harpedonaptai had drawn the cadaster map at a scale of one to one. so silky it already seems the grained evenness of papyrus. allocating to each a square plot that’s equal to the others. a fine image of utopia and its impossible resemblance to the true. having recently become exclusively political. which the Greeks brought back to their country. prescribing that an annual tax be paid. For regarding the use of the polos. to the invention of geometry. to two orders of science. rather like the way the society of men can sometimes leave the constraints of the physical real or the way the anchorite who loves solitary shores can forget the sound and fury of groups. How do we separate them? How can we understand them? Does the version stemming from the social sciences faithfully express the narrative reported by Herodotus? As little as the version of the sciences of nature. our fathers referred to the first one in order to think. the following can be read: Sesostris. without bounds or memory. he based his revenues on this division. Still farmers. The Nile rises: all the fields of both banks become covered over by a smooth- surfaced lake. When the oar leaves its course or wake on the plane of high water. They remain distinct. If it happened that the river removed a part of someone’s plot. dedicated to the muse Euterpe. divided the soil among all the Egyptians. the generation that is passing on. Here it is. in my opinion. protector of festivals. the gnomon and THE MEASUREMENT OF THE EARTH: HERODOTUS   197 . This is precisely what we are looking for: a covering over. only thought about the second one. This is what gave rise. he would send people to examine and measure how much the piece of land had diminished so that in the future a proportional reduction in the payment of the fixed tax could be made. nothing remains of its writing’s fragile furrow. living only in megalopolises. Is it so difficult then to read our legends? But have we truly read the original text? No.

Back in his offices. according to winter or summer. apart from the Nile flood—whose gift all of Egypt is and which never intervenes in this narrative—. in this Euterpe chapter doesn’t concern the first division of the agricultural valley into plots. In the other origin legend Thales measures the relation between the lengths of the shadows and consequently invents homothety. like an invariant count of quantities that are variable everyday. likewise here this invention and only this invention appears: the logos 198   GEOMETRY . nor the dividing up of time on the Babylonian side. short or long. Silt is lacking at a dented meadow. we for whom the days are made up of twelve legal and stable hours without any relation to the daystar. without paradox. the spatial measurement of the earth and that of the sky and time? The only occurrence of the verb “to measure. the hours. that is. the total or partial collapse of an alluvial field. the Greeks learned these from the Babylonians. All the theories of the Earth have taken several centuries as well to escape from the Flood! At a regular rate of flow.” and therefore of its operation. it frequently enough happens that along a curve or an undermining of a high bank any river can produce the opposite effect of depositing. the farmer moves and goes to make a complaint in high places about the accident he was just victim of. scale. the functionary calculates the proportional decrease of the fixed tax: kata logon. We had forgotten this. but a kind of catastrophe. Suffering damages. from which every known interpretation however abusively derives it. Logos between phusis and nomos That is the invention of the logos or the proportion between the difference measured on the land and the one the functionary calculates for the tax reduction: here then is the scale that. so the king sends his harpedonaptes to the scene to measure how much his land has been diminished: a difference of course which amounts to a subtraction since the depositing or addition constitutes or forms the arable land itself along the valley.2 Did you know that during those times the definition of the day separated sunrise from sunset in such a way that. takes its place in the legend: how the origin is to be read. The entire text speaks and only speaks about this difference. that is to say. in spite of everything. Why does Herodotus bring together the metric of the fields and that of hours.the division of the day into twelve parts. varied since they divided up changing angles on the sundial? Always twelve.

observed on the land by the peasant. the first part of this book and the following one. which connects nature and culture. a kind of Jacob’s this very scale which relates the originary fellah’s agrarian land and the harpedonaptes’ royal map. lead from the pagus to the page. calculated by the tax collector on the cadastral map. nevertheless opposed: physicalism moves on one wing of a chimera whose other wing carries the exclusivism of the social sciences. Herodotus doesn’t talk about geometry for the sake of the measurement of a square of wheat or for the sake of the calculation of the tax base on the cadaster. the black earth of the peasant and the gray of administration. Real or supposed. The logos forms the stone of this bridge. the field and the map. from plowing to discussion. the physical sciences and the social sciences. the generation preceding me and my own generation. the real of geometry. Might abstract space allow us to inhabit this earth where the agrarian zone fits into the laws of the state the way politics bustles about under the physical sky? THE MEASUREMENT OF THE EARTH: HERODOTUS   199 . the hard and the soft. They therefore open. The same relation is established on the earth as in the sky. The stability discovered here. and a counting. Thales and Diogenes. but rather a kind of mysterious path. from the countryside to the city. The kings’ or the state’s map imitates the soil beneath the feet the way one utopia resembles another. which has just described their bouquets. the physicist Anaximander and him hungry for justice. the first interpre- tation and the second one. hardware and software. the set of which conditions measurement. and conversely from the court to the piece of land or from contradictory disputes to the square of wheat. Geometry’s space doesn’t reproduce the first one nor imitate the second. but for the sake of the relation between a reduction. from the field onto the public plaza. The facilitation of the routes causes the percolation threshold to be crossed. the thing and its representation. He therefore describes an invariant across variations and therefore compares this stability between the physical accident and the tax payment with the stability of the Babylonian civil count of hours across the variety of their real length. Such a scale emerges at the very moment it’s lacking. from the victim to the king or his lieutenant. bridges these two utopias. finally from the law to the earth and back. from the garden to the tribunal. nomos and phusis. cross and make easy all the conceivable paths whose loops surround this book. these transports.

relations. if unassailable. 200   GEOMETRY . Answer: Herodotus precisely doesn’t explain how Sesostris made the first division because he consciously wanted to tell his origin starting from variation. The logos or relation invents this space of transport which everyone crosses while remaining invariant: this is the pure space of geometry. Vague. Logos The portion matters less than proportion. the flat flood. The sky and the earth matter less than their variations. history and the grand narratives. the river as well as the hours. and this latter was only born after they were shaken by the undermining of the flowing river or the flowing of the variable hours.and trans-. re-. rigorous measurement after or according to those lacks. the first divisions only learned precise. were able to make the position and the form of the plots precise: pro-portion precedes the portion. exact. which would have been first and therefore more originary than this calculation of differences. the very preposition or prefix says so. ad. of substances as well as of the substantives or verbs brought into play. which. the latter attains neither precision [justesse] nor justice. in which the harpedonaptai coming to measure the collapsed corner move. in return. the changes of the stars and the climate matter less than the space in which the peasants running to the administration move. the space in which our Greeks move. the relation [rapport] or transport whose substantive -port again matters less than its prefixes or the preposi- tions pro-. of cases. bringing the polos or gnomon back from Babylon and from Egypt the relation between the bank’s collapse and the tax reduction. Before the former. they both compensate damages and losses by moving.An objection Here is nonetheless an objection. that is to say. of things. what is subtracted from us of the flowing duration or of the soft deposited silt. The valley’s moiré surface. which can remain perfectly stable across the variable instability of nature and of customs. through the relation and the logos between the two differences which. the valley to be divided up into plots or square parts. their differences. The portion and the plot matter less than the relation. before the accident. without any notable obstacle and in which everything flows easily. Before the harpedonaptes or the peasant thinks. approximate. their lacks. and the human efforts to compensate for them. would bring us back to the previous interpretations: this relation must indeed have existed previously for the king to have been able to order.

The origin of geometry can be read. in the mystery of hieroglyphics and the refusal to read in the legend the difference between these two sciences and the relations that compensate this difference. before anything whatsoever is posed. plenitude. Abstraction doesn’t take place in and through the fixed or mobile position of the earth or the sky. transparency and light the geometrical plane would imitate afterwards. along the relations. absent or unnoticed. or center from which one perceives. beneath the inextricable. In French as in the Greco-Latin languages the word mesure [measure or measurement] means exactitude. On measurement. Does the measurement of the originary earth translate this first arbitral temper- ament? Precisely Herodotus’s text recounts the reduction come from a THE MEASUREMENT OF THE EARTH: HERODOTUS   201 . taxes. Abstraction doesn’t occur starting from the earth. axis. the advantages and. in general. on the one side. rather it is born from transports between the field and the tax grimoire. servitude. between the concerns given us by the earth on which we place our feet or the hard real that wears our hands out or again that river that took bread away from our mouths. on the other. following the relations that bridge and compensate their variations. and perhaps. and the worries other men give us. in the prefix or the preposition that precedes the very word “preposition. exquisite and transparent network of prepositions and the topographies of declension. In particular. before the thesis or the being-there. work. again What is geometry. rather it is born along trans- ports. precision and accuracy in the relation that the things themselves maintain with a given ruler. from the map written and drawn on the royal papyrus whose exactitude and just precision geometry would imitate afterwards. buried beneath the undermined lands. like an open book. a kind of mean. rather it follows the preposition. so forgotten that they are discovered again at the origin. the inconveniences. Indeed. in and through the mobile or fixed position of the written or said Maat.” in this very preseance which precedes the act of posing. once again? A certain measurement of the earth. It no longer occurs starting from the cadaster. the essential takes place along the relations that the hard sciences forget to maintain with the social sciences or along those that these latter fail to maintain with the former. before all. but at the same time an entirely human moderation that one would like to see appear in official or judicial provisions. as with the balance of a justice. power. Logos doesn’t say being but rather relation. from the smooth surface of the waters or the purity of the sky whose dimensions. middle.

ruses and subterfuges in order to get ourselves out of difficulty. the trick that allows you to sort things out sometimes allows the weak to get the better of the strong. to command—for example nature—while appearing to obey. the Greeks used precisely a word from the same family as “measure”—“Metis. abstract and concrete at the same time. pharaoh and tax collector. Metis.” a subtle ruse that threads its way through the impossible risks imposed by the force of things and the power of men and which passes. of course. mother of measurement We no longer remember the time when the great separation—insistent. the harpedonaptes arbitrates by measuring so that the farmer and the tax official together agree. We therefore invented a thousand tricks. anterior to every dualism. as is sometimes done before the powerful: Bacon will follow. even though she has never heard of either the intelligible or 202   GEOMETRY . set snares. it was necessary to sort things out! Act then without abstraction. In order to think the era preceding geometry it is at least necessary to dredge up from memory attitudes not torn apart by this caesura. moderate. raise the sails. good at sorting things out. to my knowledge. stomp grapes. but also precede Thales and Plato. all-powerful—of the intelligible and the sensible didn’t rule our minds. geometry in space. Like the stone-cutters that supplied the Pyramids or the keystones for the great medieval cathedrals. we didn’t always know. a hundred devices. grind flour. there was no abstract heaven populated with models whose rigor and beauty are imitated poorly and vaguely by the concrete things here below. Who will say which consensus goes first. artifices. before them. and which arouses the other? It indeed looks as though the meanness of measure follows the crossing from nature to society: mathematics appears to be born in the very middle of the Northwest Passage. here the natural Charybdis of the Nile’s turbulence and the cultural Scylla of society. raise a shelter. Yes. In other words. An educated-third. how did we think when we didn’t necessarily think two such worlds? Because everything always mixes. you can already fish. Without any ideal formalities. the agreement of the revised payment or the understanding concerning proportion. between two reefs.deduction: the pharaoh accepts losing the tax whose equivalent the Nile has taken from the peasant. go hunting. The divine Plato drew this separation from mathematical idealities: without them. try to seduce your neighbor—that’s already more than three-quarters of life! To express this basic vital intelligence.

its image. got pregnant by him. it is said. one to the East. on both sides of the sea. he swallowed her. Hence everything flows and shakes. two worlds: a second cutting that made us rationalist. Do you know a better way to forget than to incorporate? We no longer remember our detours nor the multiple ruses hatched in the united world that preceded Athena’s birth. to the West. The corresponding theogony Finally master of Olympus after having killed his father. Can the variable be thought? How are we to say the flowing when being is and non-being is not? The Nile flows. the dawn changes its angle. opened by Hephaestus’s ax. the goddess of reason. invented the measure from which geometry came. immersed in the apeiron. Before being rational. repeating eternity. his wife. Aristotle obstructed the West up until Galileo. Does our body remember this? The question of change So the sole occurrence of the verb “to measure” in Herodotus’s chapter crops up regarding changes: the Nile rises and lowers. the cold. from Elea. Epicurus and the Abderites. The combinatory hypothesis draws every evolution from the diverse mixtures of permanent atoms: we recently rediscovered the brilliant intuition of Democritus. the land collapses. would do the same to him. the earth is increased or diminished. which allowed us to see and cut up. through exclusion. a small port in southern Italy. Zeus lived in terror that a son. Parmenides and Zeno watch over this fine problem posed at the dawn of Greekness by Heraclitus. without exclusion and median. the wet and the dry: making this theory his own. How are we to think such variances? Unavoidable arguments supporting invariance. the tax money lets it liquidity go … Three answers appear at the Greek dawn to this first question posed by physics. tomorrow. so as soon as Metis. on the Ionian coast. as though an immense dialogue had opposed two voices. A qualitative theory mixes the four elements in order to draw from them the hot. Metis. from his head. at Ephesus. the hours vary. THE MEASUREMENT OF THE EARTH: HERODOTUS   203 . streaming with fluctuations. we were intelligent. and the other. Athena would be born.

204   GEOMETRY . which we will still be debating for a long time no doubt to decide who from the origin started it. of rest and motion. But they answer it transversally. and medical. an extraordinary vertical explosion that will be reproduced only a few times in Western history. in less than a hundred years. relation. but we can reduce this question to small intervals: how many results were obtained in how much time by how many people? Here. quantitative. Suffice it to say that analogy or the logos in general resolves the question. of fluctuation and stability. water. the changes of water. via the proportions defined everywhere in relation to the primary physical states of matter—earth. even chemical. too global and vague of an idea. assesses fineness and proportions in the mixtures. In Herodotus’s text. follows that of the measurement of the land for the proportional reduction of the fixed tax. saved the apparently looped wandering of the planets?—but also via the relations counted under the shadows of the upright gnomon. the only occurrence of the term logos. via the same harmony of the spheres—who will sing sufficient praise to celebrate the talent of Eudoxus. itself general. passing. in the Hippocratic corpus … We will never know anything about progress. invariance in the variations. a handful of men put all of science in place. drawn so early and almost starting from nothing. the Pythagorean who evaluated harmony on the vibrating strings or the one who counted the preceding fractions in order to apply them to them. so much did the sequences of ratios serve the Greek mathematicians. the three answers diverge regarding elements. physical. from the origins to the latest dates. almost algebraic. musical. via the same regulated proportions of everything in everything. of the tax. via Thales’ theorem. whose hippopede. of the cadaster. via the assayed mixtures of the elements of the universe. when two or several fractions become equal. in Anaxagoras of Clazomenae. almost unitarily. of the money due return again to the fixed and stable. Stable in assemblage. Analogy is better than proportion Proportion: this therefore is the great Greek invention. Through said proportion. The third one. astronomical. via the numbered intervals of the scales. air and fire—in Empedocles. which harmonizes Heraclitus and Parmenides. sliding from one region to another: arithmetic. geometric. as a universal language for demonstration. of land. cosmogonic.

indicate. it’s not a question of cutting some thing up into parts and so of dividing up or deducting. form or call. No. The relation-logos engenders the discourse-logos through the sequence of the word-logos. the mean or proportional median. than its sliding. the terms “proportion” and “fraction” open us to the risk of not understanding what was born here. stable and slippery. of this endless discourse whose course begins to flow infinitely as soon as it thus surpasses the threshold of percolation. passes from bottom to top and from top to bottom. step by step. which goes from one relation to another. runs again from this latter to a third one. this is the great Greek invention: ana-logy. the how of its sequence. global transport. along their history. and so on. the word that slides and passes. Yes. than the space of its movement. yes. therefore of finding what. term to term. of its mastered flowing: those long chains of reason. If a miracle is to be spoken of. transits along its sequence. The Greeks didn’t know the simple relation of a over b. entirely simple and easy … Here we find invented the first language of science. which everyone. This is how the genesis of the grand narrative of science begins. the authentic invention. generous or one-sided. demonstrate its passage. In managing. Therefore. lazy. This is precisely the logos. medium. THE MEASUREMENT OF THE EARTH: HERODOTUS   205 . thanks to which they set down one or several proportional terms. the discovery or the unblocking of the sliding element. as from the soil to the map. but rather of constructing. only the analogy: a over b equals b over c interested them. from the Latin language. here it is then. according to diminishing returns. most scientists. index. Local transport. the fixed message of flying Hermes. stable. mark the syntax or organization. govern. and which nevertheless doesn’t pass since everything is evaluated and measured owing to its transport. than the prepositions that accompany it and show. Logos ana or kata … meaning or sign. this capital that was so quickly amassed. this is certainly it. and by substitution. afterwards feared the return of those thunderbolts from the blue in which a superabundant excess occurs to surprising surviving heads in brief and glorious moments. science to science. kata logon. unveiling—who knows?—the word matters less than its motion. the logos that transits. wanders and is exchanged. has known how to do since the world has lain under the light of the sun and the ferocity of war. a chain.

to Euclid’s Book X. Thales observes the rays of the sun and structures our vision with his theorem—that is the world. the dense totality of the real and not merely words: a landscape whose rare splendor would cause the philosopher’s heart to race and inspired the religious. exists and. The set of legends that recount their establishment constantly speak these two principal voices: the Egyptian harpedonaptai repair the damages caused by the flooding of the Nile—this is the world—and maintain the cadaster map for the calculation of the tax base—this is human politics. from Aristotle. object tracers of intersubjective relations in the group. we don’t truly know whether its intersection. surprise—the concrete in its plenitude.The lesson of the two legends From nature to customs. among themselves. Yet if this union does perform a miracle in theory. whose vision and life neglect the outside world of things as such. by moving on or in it. if so. and the symmetrical utopia of the scientists who call themselves realists. and countrysides. which. from barter to the exchange governed by money. everything is only political. dealing with distributive justice. If we assume it to be empty then whatever dimension is assumed for it. from politics to the religious. social. societies. that of the world and that of men. analogy slides: from the hard sciences to the soft and conversely. again in the set theory sense. If we assume it to be full then it is populated with existents with objective and collective status at the same time. both utopias. one must at some moment arrive at the border of the collective or the shores of the objective. we would contemplate or produce—oh. On the first island or on one wing of the chimera. cities. at the foot of the three pyramids. artisans equipped with their tools. even though we live immersed in it every day. who. In separating the two types of legends. we read the utopia of the sociologists or politicians. whether it’s full or empty. as though this intersection played a role in the process of beginning. take vengeance on things. on the second wing or island. or human. intersection Supposing that we know how to unite. in the world of mountains and plains. sailors at sea. in the set theory sense. that is. objects suffice. Yet the things take vengeance on men. with those I in the past called quasi-objects. but whose eyes and actions neglect the relations between men. without saying anything … Union. and—this is 206   GEOMETRY .

nor a politics. a unique contract never accepted by men. the innermost of the innermost. nor a physics. but if it does exist. whatever that community may be. a science of the world either. as we also know. exceptional at every point. a social science nor. We don’t know if an intersection between the objective and the subjective exists. whose like has never been seen. it is nevertheless both the one and the other since it is so well applicable to the things of the world that no one can know them without it and since it achieves so well the universal agreement between men that we know of no other example THE MEASUREMENT OF THE EARTH: HERODOTUS   207 . it is filled with those absent objects called mathematical idealities. as we know. I mean free from all collective intervention. A perfect objective model. but above all through this association. such as none other has ever been found. nor a biology … perhaps we don’t even know how to define it. empty or full. nor a sociology. Why? Because first of all it achieves about itself the complete agreement of the community. the way Diogenes demanded that Alexander remove himself from his sun. because secondly it is applicable at leisure to the objects of the world as such. to the limits of the two utopic spaces. does such a double and dubious balance express the equilibrium of heavy bodies or distributive justice? Does some given initial text by Euclid likewise say the stability of heavy bodies or the agreement between participants? Does some given dialogue let an objective noise be heard or the collective disagreement? The problem of the multiple origins of mathematical forms. Here lies the place of the source and its gushing forth. an excellent tracer of a noiseless network. Collective-objective What should we call the empty intersection between two utopias? The abstract. What should we name the quasi-object thrown into this abstraction? The mathematical—scorns the Pharaoh’s powers cut into the tomb’s stones. The science that we qualify in this way is indeed not. the double body of a sterile unicorn. the deciphering of the legends that recount them reduce to the space that’s open or closed by this conjunction or disjunction of divergence or coordi- nation. a conjunction and disjunction which both designate and describe the intersection. In sum. that is to say. a paradoxical object. of these two utopias. Although it may not be either the one or the other. which is why we sometimes refer it to an ideal heaven at the extremes of the real or to a transcendental knowledge. full or empty.

the immediate and experimental. practice it.of agreement that would be as perfect or of universality that would be as complete and saturated. in which divisions are organized. natural and cultural. immanent and transcendent. but we don’t have the eyes to see it! Here. was passing through them. as in an excellent contract. the dense reality. remains unique. a science therefore that’s non-objective and entirely objective. whose two compo- nents. spaces without eye in which the entire optical scene becomes clear and organized. detached or abstract. spaces empty of man in which elementary social relations are canonized and appeased. so collective that only it is truly objective. are only two utopian subtractions. paradisiacal. the god of luck. so commonly shared by all the others. meager and poor. use it or better yet. The collective understanding is founded on its objective necessity at the same time as this necessity is founded on this understanding: such a simultaneity is only met with here. invent it. defining and including every relation. in which for example profit or loss equal sales minus purchases. rich and complete. without human presence and nonetheless universal for collective relations. real. in which taxes and tributes are calculated. without any relation. so useless that only it is truly 208   GEOMETRY . Of course. the lived certainty of the inescapable presence of a horn of plenty from which everything is always drawn from nothing. here is the bottom of the horn of plenty! Have we ever truly observed to what extent this science. with every object. Spaces without object in which every object no matter which is situated or measured. is the blind spot. everything is found there. entirely relational and non-relational. in the center of the two bodies. This abundantly explains why mathematics gives to those who love it. in which equation guarantees equity. Mathematics is therefore: so objective that only it is truly collective. you might think Hermes himself. in which exchanges are balanced. yes. to the ultimate limits? Outside the world and in the world. rare and paradoxical. Without any object. The source-place Geometric space or arithmetic counting or the step-by-step algorithmic process … are all three born from this intersection long believed to be empty and null and which I believe and know is nonetheless the true world.

so in knowledge that it excels in being. The gnomon that comes out of the earth links it to the heavens and the light. religious. real. it thinks all by itself. Eminently object. The earth and the Earth We are at the end of the travels of Thales or Democritus. whose geometry smooths out the area. pragmatic. but also the templum and the pagus. culti- vated. to finish. this is his double name. ensues from the integral sum of the most concrete real which it traverses. is a mathematical object? An excellent and limit quasi-object. natural. Since its birth. so external that only it is truly internal. willingly or not. everything has flowed. political. so internal that only it is truly external. judicial and knowing at the same time. What then. Ever since the whitening of this space by Hermes’ passage and connec- tions. A unitary Earth appears then. geographical. in brief. so abstract that only it is truly concrete. and whose abstraction and purity sum up or form the synopsis and the synthesis of this common and full reality. the Egyptian peasants and the royal harpedonaptes … Who in fact transports? Hermes. we have lived and thought in and through it. they connect places that are separated and thus install smooth spaces. an Egyptian god. astronomical. and the commodities market to the pages filled by scribes and ministers. a basin such that the source appeared and we went beyond the threshold of percolation. The homogeneity of space comes from the sum of these transports. inhabited. Even our history. the agora and the court and consequently unites the earth to the state. the lightning- fast transports that link them created a white box. ruled by the laws of gods and kings. one generalizing lines similar to Zeno’s segment or regular bodies like the tetrahedron. as I’m therefore showing it. Thus the pure space of geometry first sums up the heavens and the earth. agrarian. both physical.useful. so in being that it excels in knowledge. it absorbs every object. so concrete even that it was sometimes believed that its space was the form of outer intuition … … so concrete lastly that only it is truly abstract: the birth of its abstraction. a thick earth. the Greek translation of Thoth. The sudden connection between these specifications. so that we have become its Levites and priests in charge. eminently. passing and flying both of them. a collective subject. THE MEASUREMENT OF THE EARTH: HERODOTUS   209 .

humbly. Geometry integrates all our practical or ideal habitats the way white light sums up all the colors. that we still have trouble today showing philoso- phers that our senses are sometimes immersed in entirely different spaces. shades distributed as in language are distinguished the temple. for a new sun to rise behind this prism and project onto the sand in front of me. utopia. We now inhabit this space like a house. So much did Greek acculturation inform us and thus naturalize the world that the not very perspicacious Kant took the space thus purified to be the form of our outer intuition! Yes. by or against exclusion. in transparency or translucency. the things of the world and our bodies therefore became Euclidean and became so anchored in this paradoxical earth.Our habitat Greece inhabited this white space and made it so that we have never since stopped inhabiting it as our own territory. the city. the agrarian zone. the theater’s stage. to understand who lives there and how they reside there. Our earth of light. a measured house. topological or projective ones. an ignorant child crossing the desert. chaotic or fractal ones. the camp. I remember having approached one day. whose space comprehended. almost a half- century. deprived of its long. integrated the set of these habitats. its abstraction is a sum and not a subtraction. Without this white synthesis of the space of every passage we would have to resort to a perpetual miracle so as not to understand why mathematics in general and this space of geometry in particular are universally applicable to men and the things of the world without exception. the court. the page … elements of our former habitat. in violence or peace. I only understood our former house at the moment I grasped that the pure and translucent polyhedron was the gnomon. dazzled like Thales or Diogenes in their time. before it or deprived of its expanse whose homogeneous transparency bathes us and traverses our bodies. the complete range of several diverse places. We no longer have the slightest idea or perception of an earth without geometry. Yes. wide and high triple arrow that’s so universal that the entire universe is immersed in it. and so as to hope. strange because isotropic and translucent. the pure and transparent tetrahedron of Geometry in space so as to wait. or even better. extending its wingspan. that is the deep meaning of the term geometry. like the component shades of an invisibility. so strong does their belief remain that the space stemming from ancient geometry remains our 210   GEOMETRY . for more than four decades. like our earth: the meter is the Earth. lying or standing upright.

light in its speed more than its brightness circulate in mass: a new space of new trans- ports is installed on a global Earth. zebra-striped. of the threshold of percolation. or Saint John the Evangelist … I’m waiting for the dawn. together. Hope Over the course of the twentieth century we detached ourselves little by little from the space of the earth that we had inhabited for three millennia. a new science and another habitat. a space more mixed than pure. than smooth or homogeneous.only earth. of war. whose birth occupied the cities and islands of the Logos written by Thales. information. of the written page disappeared from our sight. Perhaps we are leaving the simple connections that Hermes knotted with his caduceus in order to regain the transports of multicolored legions of myriads of Archangels through the ubiquity of messages. knowledge. a new city. other grand narratives. even though the Earth. the new science seeks computers and scenarios of the possible. without their blinded gazes. the crossing. of nation states. A flow will flow: new endless discourses. in its summing purity. in this network. variegated. archaic and new. Eudoxus. in multiple and connected networks. of agriculture. tomorrow. Across these new percolating networks. is globally constructed elsewhere. of the sacred. and for the same reasons as those this book evokes from the ancient knowledge and the ancient house. THE MEASUREMENT OF THE EARTH: HERODOTUS   211 . Ancient science spoke of tables and causes. Herodotus. so that little by little the space of solar light. all of which geometry expressed. messages. tiger-striped. Now bodies. more blended. a new universe are being prepared.

212 .

which normally means graph. All footnotes are the translator’s. 3 Graphe=graphe. which normally refers to the way a language is represented by written signs. which would normally be translated as “topological manifolds” in a mathematical context. .NOTES The universal: One of its first constructions 1 Earth=terre. 2 “Exasperated” is probably being used in its etymological sense of made rough. “Graphism” one paragraph below translates graphisme. which evokes the softness of the logos. 4 Topological varieties=variétés topologiques. The differences: Chaos in the history of science 1 Cathedral=cathèdre. The word chaise most commonly means chair. 2 Software=logiciel. Hence I write it as “graphe” to indicate a non-standard usage. but the context here doesn’t seem technical. dihedral=dièdre. which evokes material and the material world. Though Serres does evoke this technical sense two sections below. but which Serres seems to be using in this work mostly in its etymological sense of writing or drawing. Hardware=matériel. polyhedron=polyèdre. which will sometimes be translated as “land” and occasionally “ground” in this work.

literally holding in one’s hand. which normally means the excluded middle in logic. usually in Provence. My use of “cutting” is meant in the sense of blending a non-active ingredient into a drug. cela ne passe pas [it doesn’t pass]. from John 12:24: if a kernel dies it produces many seeds.Synthesis: The science of history 1 A reference to the epitaph of Jacques de La Palice: Ci gît le Seigneur de La Palice: S’il n’était pas mort. 11 Welcoming basin=bassin accueillant.” Gathering=cueillette. to flow. collection basin=bassin de recueil. 4 My translation of the famous lines from Apollinaire’s “Mirabeau Bridge. Relevant meanings here would be holding a note or not changing over time. 13 Excluded Third or Middle=tiers-exclu. but mostly “place. il ferait encore envie [Here lies Monsieur de La Palice. Flowing=écoulement. which derives from the Latin locus. collection basin=bassin de recueil. The f in ferait could easily be confused with the antiquated long s. 12 A restanque is a stone wall built across an intermittent stream bed that collects soil on its upstream side for cultivation. sieve=passoire. 2 Serres mostly does not provide transliterations of the Greek.” I will use one or the other depending on whichever fits the context better. 3 “Couloir” comes from the French verb couler. I’m providing them for the convenience of the reader. which would normally mean here the blending or diluting of wines.” 5 Pass=passer. 8 Holdings=tenues. if he weren’t dead. From earlier. His name has become synonymous with stating the obvious. he is most likely referring to one of his favorite Biblical passages.] Envie can be misread as en vie: if he weren’t dead he would still be alive. from above. can also be translated as “site. The term has also come to mean a stone retaining wall built on a hillside to create arable land. 9 Places=lieux. which may be related to the tenir in maintenant [now]. but Serres also uses it in the literal sense of 214   Notes . 7 Cutting=coupage. For instance. 6 Ne…pas is how French negates. 10 When Serres speaks of the grain that dies here. he would still be envied. also derived from couler.

This passage reads as a quick critique of Heideggerian Being and dwelling. 2 Prosecution. I should point out that it derives from the Latin vindicta. This Heideggerian term is usually left in the German in English. 12 “Mêlée” has the same meaning in English as in French. 4 Case=cause. to weigh. one of which is a set that does not include its boundary. in French. revenge or vengeance. thing=chose. which evokes allies as well as alloys. “alloyed ally” translates allié. 6 The etymology of “poetic” is a Greek word meaning productive. which can mean the entirety of something. 3 An open set=un ouvert. a lawsuit or judicial process. conviction and punishment=vindicte. 10 The etymology of “lieutenant” is placeholder. 13 Penser [to think] derives from the Latin pensare. I’ll translate it as whichever sense seems more prevalent given the context and sometimes as both. Serres often seems to be using it in both senses. In the next section. which has the same root as cause: the Latin causa. dasein. Several pages below I translate it as “whole set. I’m assuming Serres means this term in both senses here. 5 Precisely=justement. 7 Droit is always human law. but also a mathematical set. but the reader should be advised that it derives from a French verb for mixing. First in history: Anaximander 1 Being-there=l’être-là.” It is mostly translated as “set” in this work.94. 9 Alloys=alliés. “Open set” has many definitions. which can also mean justly. 8 Herodotus’s Histories 1. Notes   215 . to assess. 14 White blanks=des blancs. loi can be either human law or natural law. One of his works is entitled Holzwege [woodpaths]. peser. excluding some third person or thing. 15 Glues=colle. as here. Hereafter I will shorten it simply to “prosecution” for euphony’s sake. 11 Whole=ensemble. which literally reads as an open.

14 Roundabout point=ronde-point. 3 Interfering parasites=parasites. 7 The “other” is Galileo. and yet it turns. which shares the same suffix as “transport. ball or paving stone=espace tonnelé. which I will mostly render hereafter as “graphism. “cut off from” in the first paragraph of this section is coupée de. which means to carry or bear. 2 Relation=rapport. but roundabout is also meant here. pale. 6 Even=pair. 216   Notes . First in dialectic: The interlocutor 1 Handwriting=graphisme. 4 Stilus=stile. pavé. all of which are based on couper. I should also mention that rapport can also be translated as “ratio” in a mathematical context.” First in the rite: The royal victim 1 Barreled space. and yet it moves.” The suffix comes from the verb porter. to cut. in French literally translates as. The famous phrase attributed to him. interrupted time=temps à coupures. which literally reads as round-point. Below I’ll merely translate it as “round-point. 8 “Bridge” in the previous sentence is pont. probably refers to the Latin stilus. pointed writing instrument and possibly goad. 3 Divide=coupure. which isn’t in the French dictionary. 4 A reference to an anecdote regarding Aesop. 5 Agonal=agonale. 5 To occupy a counter-productive or counter-communicative role=tenir un rôle contre-productif ou contre-communicatif [translator’s highlighting]. boule. Mostly I have avoided doing so since Serres seems to emphasize relation in general over the specific relation that is a ratio. in the sense of an agon.” All instances of “handwriting” render 2 Entendre can mean both understanding and hearing. which also has the sense of peer. all of which are terms used by Bourbaki. meaning stake.

Philosophie première: Cours de philosophie positive. p. which can also mean a closed set. so I will translate it as “shaded surface shadow. 1970). I have used both of these translations—authority and agency—in this work (every occurrence of these words in this text translates instance). a non-stance. 67–68. 7 In-stances=instances. Serres will treat this as a kind of shadow. and Allal Sinaceur (Paris: Hermann. 1975). Morrow (Princeton: Princeton University Press..6 Openings=ouverts. 3 Proclus. with a capital G. 2 Ibid. I’ll write it as “in-stance” to differentiate it from the common English meaning of the term. 8 Geometry=La Géométrie. trans. In my experience. But here it is not at all clear what it means. Perhaps it should be taken in its etymological sense of instans.. being present. In a linguistic context. and esse. New York: Arno Press. In the previous two sections Serres used it in the sense of technology. Onzième leçon. Troisième leçon. When it clearly doesn’t mean some kind of decision-making body or Freudian-style agency. p. which can mean an authority with the power of decision or the agencies of the psyche in Freud’s psychology. It is even a possibility that the prefix in- might at times be a negation. ed. It might loosely mean an instance of something. First in history: Thales 1 Auguste Comte. 1976). Serres’ use of this term outside of a legal context is very context-dependent. standing near or in. between. 8 “Interest” derives from the Latin inter. 5 Techniques=techniques. reprint ed. Notes   217 . it can mean an instance of discourse. Michel Serres. which can mean either technique or technology. 6 Shaded surface=ombre propre. 4 Paul Tannery. François Dagognet. pp. Closings=fermés. which literally means own shadow and refers to the shaded surface of the object casting a shadow. to be. which as we have seen can mean open sets. 275. leçons 1 à 45. Glenn R. La Géométrie grecque (1887. which I’ve mostly translated as “dark” in this part of the book. A Commentary on the First Book of Euclid’s Elements.” 7 Black=noir. 176.

it is very useful to have a Greek–English edition of Euclid’s definitions from Book 1. p. 2003). and planes’. appealing to the less common directional meaning of the term as well as to the semantic one. 12 Serres is probably referring to the Descending Passage of the Great Pyramid which formerly aimed at Alpha Draconis. chairs.” 16 To understand what follows. straight lines. main. 218   Notes . the verb used on tombstones for “here lies.9 Logistique was a term used around the time of Descartes meaning the four basic operations of mathematics.” literally holding in hand. I will translate this word as “sense” in this passage. 18 Sense=sens. which literally reads as table bed. 17 Triclinium=lit de table. p. 115. On the numbers. 14 Cathode and anabasis should be taken in their etymological senses of descending and going up. 166.” Gisement can also refer to a mineral deposit. which can mean meaning or direction. which is derived from gésir. Hilbert’s famous quip [my translation]: “‘Tables. 15 It might be helpful to be specific. highlights the hand. Cf. which along with the word “maintenance. which in ancient times was the north star. 11 Reason or ratio=raison. 20 Descartes wrote his Discourse on Method in a poêle or stove-warmed room. 13 Layer=gisement. 19 The diagram on the right is designed after an illustration in Serres’ Eléments d’histoire des sciences (Paris: Bordas. The French says two statements. I have to presume a typo. replete with extra illustrations and comments. This book includes an earlier version of much of this discussion of the gnomon. the bands of the framing square can be found. he wrote: Each like sign arranged in an angled shape provides a count of the odd numbers that must be successively added to construct a new square. For this illustration. 10 Grip=mainmise. and beer mugs’ can be said at any time instead of ‘points.

First in logic: The element 1 Lines=traits. By “pharmaceutical” here. 3 “Duplication” in the sense of doubling the area. The measurement of the earth: Herodotus 1 Departing from=à partir de. 5 The Greek pharmakon can mean a drug that cures or poisons. 4 Geometry=la Géométrie. indemonstrable=non montrable.First in philosophy: The ignorant slave boy 1 I have made one modification to Jowett’s translation to bring it into line with Serres’ text as I have translated it. to draw.” 3 Abstracting: drawing a line from=abstraire : tirer un trait de. a phrase that Serres is quite fond of which I’ve usually translated as “starting from” or “from. reads: The lines of the diagonals of the pentagram reconstruct a pentagon whose diagonals endlessly cause another pentagon to appear. Serres wrote “French” instead of “English. with a capital G.” 2 A polos or πόλος is a concave portion of a sphere in which a gnomon’s shadow is projected. 2 Of course. Often “line” will translate ligne as well. 4 “Canon” derives from a Greek word meaning a straight measuring rod. 2 See the Meno 81b–c. Tirer can mean both to draw a line and to draw something from something. Notes   219 . Abstraire and trait share a common etymology. from Serres’ Eléments (p. 6 Not showable. indémontrable. 7 The comment for the above diagram. trahere. where Socrates cites Pindar as evidence of immortal souls and multiple lives. a ritual sacrificial victim or a person exiled as a scapegoat. 137). Serres is referring to the pharmakos.