The following text is an English excerpt from my book „Versions of Thinking – Version I: Disappointing Thinking“, which will soon be published in German. Ten other excerpts will follow.
Disappointment, resistance, hope – these three terms denote centers of thought of a philosophical book project called „Versions of Thinking“, of which the first volume is entitled „Version I: Disappointing Thinking“. Each of the three volumes will primarily, explicitly or implicitly, refer to one of these three concepts or will move within one of these three centres of thought: the first volume in that of disappointment, the second in that of resistance, the third in that of hope.
The reference to each of these concepts will be primary, not exclusive, because in none of them is it possible to think of one concept without the other: On the one side of thinking – I will call it the passive one (it is the subject of the first volume) – how would disappointments be conceivable without resistance and hope? And on the other side – I will call it the active one (it is the subject of the second volume) – how would resistance be conceivable without disappointment and hope?
Does not every disappointment lead to a resistance that corresponds to the truth of the hope that underlies it? And is not for this reason also every resistance unthinkable without a hope that drives it, but also disappoints it? Disappointment, resistance and hope form a circle which, starting from disappointment, leads via resistance to hope (d–r–h), but also vice versa, starting from hope, via disappointment to resistance (h–d–r).
Thus, on the one hand, the active side of thinking, the circle between resistance and disappointment closes: all resistance that is – philosophically – nourished by hope is based on a moment of disappointment (d–r–h). And on the other, the passive side of thinking, the circle between disappointment and hope closes: All disappointments are preceded – philosophically – by a hope that leads to resistance (h–d–r).
In each of the three terms, therefore, the other two are „reflected“ – to use an optical metaphor popular with philosophers. Each „reflects“ the other, is a „reflex“ of the other. They form a unity, a dialectical unity: If disappointment is the thesis, then hope, the synthesis, is already anticipated in it in an abstract way. But hope can only be fulfilled by the antithesis to disappointment, in which, as a mediation of the two, resistance exists.
Or is not rather, conversely, hope the thesis, disappointment the antithesis, and resistance the synthesis of both? Can resistance be the end? This raises the question: What is resistance, if it is the end, supposed to achieve? Can we be satisfied with hope or even with resistance as a synthesis? What are resistance and hope for? The first volume of my book-project, which is primarily devoted to disappointment, cannot give an answer to this question. Only one thing can be said at this point:
Disappointment, resistance and hope are understood here as philosophical versions of thought which – and this is meant quite critically – remain or „get stuck“ in the realm of theory. But every resistance and all hope must in the end lead to an action that – in reality – changes that against which resistance is directed. This is no longer a matter for philosophy, cannot be a matter for theory alone. It is a matter of action, which means always also a matter of practice.
Disappointment, resistance and hope are thus conceptualized as versions of thought, or more precisely: as turns of thought (cf. lat. vertere = revolve, turn, return). This can be understood once, in the ordinary, unproblematic sense of „turn“, as types or forms of thinking. Thinking is then merely the generic term under which the three forms of thinking fall: disappointing, resistant and hopeful thinking.
But the word „turn“ can also be understood literally, so that every turn of thinking, let it be disappointing, resistant or hopeful, is a reversal, a turning around of the respective thinking. Disappointment, for example, is turning away from the hope, the „deception“ that supports it and from the passivating realities that force it to turn around.
The reversal of disappointment is thus, analytically seen, composed of two partial movements, of a negative and a positive movement: The negative movement is the movement of turning away from the hoped-for or expected reality, which in disappointment turns out to be an illusion (disappointment is dis-appointment, i.e. disillusion). And the positive movement is the movement of turning towards the reality which does not correspond to the hoped-for or expected one, in other words: which contradicts it.
In a similar way, as a form of thinking, the reversal of resistance can be understood. It consists in turning against the reality towards which disappointment turns, i.e. in the name of the expected reality from which disappointment turns away. In this respect, there is a reversal of movement itself between disappointment and resistance, which means, both are opposite forms of reversal:
Resistant thinking turns away from the reality of disappointment, i. e. from a disappointing reality. Negatively it rejects it and positively turns to a new reality that may not yet be thematic in resistance itself. It takes up the experience of disappointment: what was originally positive is now negative and, for sake of a position not yet realized, positions itself as a negation of the negative. What is positive in disappointment is therefore negative in resistance and vice versa.
But then, how is hope to be understood? If it is, as I have asserted, the synthesis of disappointment and resistance, it can also be understood as a reversal of movement, but, unlike disappointment and resistance, as a „synthesized“ or a „doubled“ one: it first absorbs the experience of disappointment in so far as, like every disappointment, it turns to the negative of all there is, but second only in order to search in it for traces of the new.
But in this it is resistant. For, since what is is not yet what should be, and what should be is not yet what is, she cannot be content with the search for traces of the new, with such a search alone. She cannot rely on finding approaches to a new, utopian world in the real world; it must also design it. Hope is therefore more than the sum of activity (resistance) and passivity (disappointment): it is creativity.