Facing the Horizon Marked by Negative Infinity

How are we to deal with an anticipatory horizon set by someone to damage you? The anticipatory horizon is always closed and it closes us. How do we open a closed anticipatory horizon? How are we to break free from the horizon that is set up to damage you? What is our most natural response to such a damaging horizon? When the horizon is pre-emptively deliberately closed by someone, what would be our auto-immune response? The anticipatory horizon that is fixed to see your life and actions from a position that twists and manipulates by attaching motives to them that are not intended by you can truly harm you. The natural mode of our response to such a horizon is reactive. It is a response directed towards what can be called damage control. It a spontaneous auto-immune response.

Does it mean that lowering of defences raised by our auto-immune responses is suicidal? Do we have to resist this temptation to go along with our auto-immune response? The auto-immune response is a blind defence mechanism. It is mindless and often gets sucked into the tramps of the anticipatory horizon that is constructed to damage us. Such a construction of an anticipatory horizon is a manifestation of the sickness of the mind. Hence, a thoughtfully considered response may be the right immune strategy that does not allow someone’s sickness to make us sick. We have the challenge to rise above this psychopathology. Hence, our response to these closed horizons that is managed and controlled to damage us has to be therapeutic. Such a response will be emancipative and will break the chains that pull us down.

To get out of the constraints of the closed horizon, we need Kierkegaard’s leap of faith. This leap of faith brings about a leap of consciousness. Such a leap will bring us to the absolute horizon and enable us to live our lives in the hand of God. This leap of consciousness lets us pass through the cloud of unknowing that enables us to distance ourselves from the closed horizon. Maybe the episode of the sacrifice of Isaac from the bible illumines us. Maybe the sacrifice of Isaac as commanded by God becomes the right way for Abraham to love his son. This means that the singular act whose final end was simply obedience to God cannot but be a loving act. Ethics then is exceeded by absolute duty/ infinite responsibility. It suspends all ethics to what may be understood as a singular de-ontological obligation to love God. It is a paradox that by sacrificing of a son (Isaac) by the father (Abraham) who is also a son of another father (God) loves both his father (God) and the son (Isaac).

This means when we enter the absolute horizon, we enter the stage of singular ethics. We are set outside the binding responsibilities of ethics of pure reason. Ethics of pure reason remains bound to the closed horizon and does not transcend it. On the absolute horizon, one is bound by the ethics of infinite responsibility. It takes us beyond the logic of opposition. The singular response of the sacrifice of Isaac in obedience to the divine command cannot be thought to be the opposite of love. It is on the side of love. It is the love of Isaac and the love of God that informs the act of sacrifice. Abraham thus becomes a model of the response of singular ethics that one is challenged to leave on an absolute horizon. The future in the absolute horizon is undecidable and hence there cannot be ethics that deals with the generalities of life. But this does not mean that there is no ethics. It is a zone and time for singular ethics. It is a zone of response to the utterly faceless other. Even facing the face of other as a source of ethical imperative does not operate at the level of the absolute horizon. Since the absolute horizon exceeds our individual horizon differently we have the challenge to respond to it singularly.

The absolute horizon faces us with the negative infinity. Negative infinity is a process of displacement. The best example of a negative infinity comes from mathematics where every number displaces the previous one in an ascending/ descending order. In the infinite horizon, we face the negative infinity. What is coming in the future always remain other, unknown and undecidable. The more we know the future as it arrives it remains unknown to us. The future remains future and as such requires us to singly respond to its coming. We do not have a known model ( ethics of generality) that will assist us to have a general mode/ universal blueprint to respond to the growing traces of negative infinity that keeps the absolute horizon in a dynamic play of ever-growing openness that paradoxically remain unknown/ closed to us. This is why we have infinite responsibility in the absolute horizon but are challenged with the collapse of all known ethics that operates in the possible horizon.

The absolute horizon brings us into the religious state taught by Soren Kierkegaard. Living at the level of absolute horizon demands taking up infinite responsibility. It is different from the responsibility that we live in the closed horizon. Responsibility in the closed horizon can only be lived with being irresponsible to the other. A closed horizon makes it impossible for us to be fully responsible. Responsibility is discriminating at the level of possible horizons. It is on the absolute horizon that one faces infinite responsibility that demands a singular response. We do not have the luxury of generality that we enjoy in the closed horizon. We all face the plight of Abraham who had to give a singular response to the infinite responsibility to which he was called when he was summoned to sacrifice his son. We can truly respond to the imperative of the absolute horizon that is marked by negative infinity only as singular individuals. Infinite responsibility can only be lived through the singularity of our choice that transcends the ethics that stays on the horizon of the possible.

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Hypocrisy is the tribute that vice pays to virtue.

- Fr Victor Ferrao