Crypto-Current (016-d)

§1.09 — Strictly speaking, Bitcoin has to be unintelligible – or at least incompletely intelligible – because it necessarily delivers more than it signifies. What the word designates vastly over-spills its recuperable (human) meaning. This is a fatality already implicit in the basic conception of distribution, in the sense of systemic decentralization. To bring any such (intrinsically distributed) ‘object’ into focus, as the target for concentrated, comprehensive attention, is impossible by definition. The attempt drives investigation diagonally, into abstraction. It might equally be said – in a manner conducive to the elaboration of critique – that a network is inherently intractable to objectification. As we shall see here, and elsewhere (even, eventually, everywhere else), the translation from epistemological challenge to political provocation takes only the smallest – and least avoidable – step.

§1.1 — The cybernetic consistency of the Bitcoin protocol is simultaneously technological and economic – we might (and shall) continue to say ‘techonomic’. Its achievement is inseparable from an orchestration of cryptographic procedures and financial incentives, such that exploitation of its economic opportunities automatically reinforces its technical operation. The result – which is, once again, inextricable from the concrete fact of its historical existence – is an actual cycle of self-reinforcement, independent of external legitimating authorities. It implements the first commercial regime to be policed – spontaneously – at the level of production. Its ‘miners’ or primary producers are also its final financial arbitrators. Nothing like it has ever been seen before.

§1.11 — There are no doubt innumerable ‘truths’ about Bitcoin, of a kind familiar both to folk intuition and to disciplined traditions of knowledge acquisition – whether first-order (scientific) or second-order (epistemological, ontological, and metaphysical). Such moments of recognition will inevitably provision the discussion to follow. Yet there is more to the topic of Bitcoin and Philosophy than any of this. While Bitcoin is certainly another thing for philosophy to talk about, it is also an entirely other way of ‘talking’ and of doing something that has been considered central to the philosophical enterprise since its inception – the cultural production of truth. Bitcoin establishes – and in fact ultimately is – an operational truth procedure. It is less a philosophical object, therefore, than a philosophical platform, and even a philosophical automatism.

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