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AbysmalA Critique of Cartographic Reason$
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Gunnar Olsson

Print publication date: 2007

Print ISBN-13: 9780226629308

Published to Chicago Scholarship Online: March 2013

DOI: 10.7208/chicago/9780226629322.001.0001

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(p.181) Moses
University of Chicago Press

The tension between trust and verification lies at the heart of European culture, perhaps of all cultures. In Erich Auerbach's analysis, it is located exactly in the taboo-ridden interface between the certainties of Odysseus' scar and the ambiguities of Abraham's fear. Two modes of understanding, two modes of being, two ways of living. Diverging attitudes which over the centuries have been condensed, purified and eventually codified, one in Aristotle's Laws of Thought, the other in the Ten Commandments. Aristotle's Laws of Thought formalize the three principles of identity (everything is what it is), contradiction (contradictory statements cannot both be true), and excluded middle (of two contradictory statements one must be true, the other false). Aristotle's Laws of Thought and Moses' Laws of Submission both function as alternative maps of power. Kazimir Malevich, the Russian Suprematist who many consider the first of abstract painters, the true father of minimal art, produced a series of whites-on-white that forms an outstanding atlas of invisible maps of the invisible, a picture of a demateralized object and a story of non-mentionable power relations.

Keywords:   Moses, Aristotle, Laws of Thought, Ten Commandments, identity, contradiction, excluded middle, Laws of Submission, power relations, Kazimir Malevich

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