Omnistitution

Everything is the substitution of nothing by nothing, or omnistitution, which has also a musical expression. Omnistitution is what makes money possible.

Possible Money

Nothing can be the social exchange value of all commodities—their equivalence to it and so to each other in it—without quantifying itself, by being its own concretely quantitative, objective representation. Conversely, nothing can represent its own social equivalence to all commodities—the generic exchange value in their price—without again quantifying itself, by being now its own abstractly quantitative, represented money. This way, a pure abstraction and a concrete object must become each other.

Yet how could it happen?

Whenever we conceive of abstractions externally, they become concrete. For example, I can imagine a price evaluation as resulting from someone else’s brain processes. I can even imagine each of my own price evaluations as resulting from its corresponding brain processes, as if it were someone else’s abstraction. However, I cannot imagine my own abstractions while still performing them: no conscious act of imagination can be to this consciousness the object of another such act by the same consciousness, at the same time. Hence, no price evaluation could be the result of any brain processes to whom at the same time performs it, always requiring instead another act of imagination—by someone else or in a different time—to make it a concrete, imaginable object. Likewise, this new act of imagination could itself only become a concrete, imaginable object with yet another such act—always by a different consciousness or in a different time.

If this infinite regression were to govern the relation between abstract and concrete money, then we would be condemned to direct exchange. On the contrary, the abstract exchange value of money must rather be concrete as also its quantifying, representing object, which in turn must rather be abstract as also its quantified, represented monetary value.

However, pure abstractions are nothing concrete, while concrete objects are nothing abstract: money as just an exchange value must be nothing of the object representing it, and money as just an object must be nothing of the monetary value it represents. Therefore, as always both an exchange value and an object, at the same time, for everyone, money (as either an exchange value or an object) requires its own absence (as respectively an object and an exchange value): it must (as either one) be nothing (as the other). Then, by being at all times, for everyone, as much an abstract exchange value as a concrete object, the presence of money becomes its absence: being becomes nothingness.

Consequently, at least regarding money, being and nothingness are the same.

Nothingness

The idea of nothingness as being something, perhaps even everything, may seem an absurdity. However, by definition:

  1. Nothingness is the absence of something, possibly of everything.

  2. If anything is absent, then:

    1. Its presence is nothing.

    2. The nothingness of its presence is present.

Then, because being present requires being something—a being—nothingness must have a being that, in the absence of everything, would itself be everything.

Being as Nothingness

In 1901, Bertrand Russell discovered the following paradox:

As a barber, a citizen shaves all and only citizens who do not shave themselves: does that barber shave himself?

If he does, then he no longer shaves only citizens who do not shave themselves, by shaving a citizen (himself) who shaves himself. And if he does not, then he no longer shaves all citizens who do not shave themselves, by not shaving a citizen (himself) who does not shave himself.

Generalizing to any other scenario, a set of all and only self-exclusive sets must include itself to include all self-exclusive sets, and must exclude itself to include only self-exclusive sets.[1]

Mathematicians have proposed many solutions to this paradox, one of which became the now-canonical set theory by Zermelo and Fraenkel. However, none of those or any other mathematical theories could let a set include all sets. This is because a set including all sets must include itself, allowing us to exclude it from itself by excluding from it all and only self-inclusive sets. Which would make the original set no longer self-exclusive (because no longer self-inclusive), then again self-exclusive (because again self-inclusive), thus already reproducing the paradox.

Even so, there is at least one of such possibly—hence possibly not yet—paradoxical sets: the concept of “everything,” which by definition must include all sets, despite being one of them. For including itself as a consequence of including all sets, that concept lets Russell’s paradox assume this absolute form: would “everything self-exclusive” (everything not self-inclusive) be a self-exclusive concept?

As thus, overcoming this paradox requires the concept of “everything” to either be meaningless or false, or else identical to that of “nothingness,” this way requiring us in turn to analyze each one of these possibilities individually:

  1. If “everything” were just a meaningless concept, then it would be posing us no paradox: like any other word, “everything” can only become paradoxical as a meaning, whether this meaning is false or identical to that of “nothingness.”

  2. If “everything”—which can only mean all beings[2]—were false, then each being would also be false.[3] Consequently:

    1. Being and nothingness would be the same.

    2. Either being or nothingness would be both false as itself and true as respectively nothingness and being.

    3. The concept of “everything” would be identical to that of “nothingness,” as in the only other alternative left.

  3. And so, the concept of “everything” is both true and false, by being identical to that of “nothingness.”

The result is that being and nothingness are the same.

Truth as Falsehood

Hence the prototype of all paradoxes:

This statement is false.

If that statement is true, then for its assertion of its own falsity to be true, it must be false. However, if the same statement is false, then for its assertion of its own falsity to be false, it must be true. So “this statement is false” must not only be false, whenever true, but also true, whenever false: truth and falsehood must be the same.

Indeed, even if being and nothingness are the same, the truth of each one still means the falsity of the other, so truth and falsehood must also be the same.

Being from Nothingness

Ultimately, nothingness is in itself identical to being:

  1. Nothingness is not any single being: whenever I choose a single being, it will be different from nothingness.

  2. Nothingness is not every single being: whenever I choose all beings, each one will be different from nothingness.[4]

Either definition is complete without the other: nothingness is indifferently not any or not every single being. Indeed, “not any single being” results the same as “not every single being,” despite meaning different procedures. However, if not any single being is not every single being, then any being is identical to every other being. Hence, any being is different from itself in every possible way: it never has its own being, which yet is the only being it can have. So each being is—or all beings are—nothing: being and nothingness are the same.

Nothingness from Being

Conversely, being is in itself identical to nothingness:

  1. Being is each being: any and every partial, relative being.

  2. Being is all beings: their total, absolute being.[5]

Either definition is incomplete without the other: being is both each being and all beings. Indeed, the being of each relative part of all beings and that of their absolute totality depend and result on each other.[6] However, no partial, relative being is a total, absolute being: each single being is not all beings. Therefore, being is either each one or the totality of all beings: it cannot be both, which yet are nothing without each other. So being is neither each single being nor the totality of all beings, hence is nothing: being and nothingness are—again—the same.

Omnistitution

Still, if nothingness is the contrary of being, which in turn is the contrary of nothingness, then how can they be the same? How is their mutual identity possible, if they define themselves, precisely, by opposing each other? Which common identity can solve this contradiction?

The answer must be something that, despite existing, does not exist—something that is also nothing. However, which being, despite being nothing, remains a being?

That being is the substitution of nothing by nothing. The self-substitution of nothingness is the only being always identical to its nothingness, as an absent substitution, which hence is always identical to that same being, as a present substitution. There is no other being like it:

  1. Although the concept of “nothingness” is both nothing and a being as a meaning and a brain process, respectively, the same concept is not all beings that can be nothing in the meaning of which it is the brain process: the concept of “nothingness” is not all beings of which it can be the nothingness.

  2. Although the number zero is both nothing and a being as the number of elements in the empty set and an element in the set of all numbers, respectively, the same number is not all beings that can be nothing in the set of which it is the number of elements: the number zero is not all beings of which it can be the nothingness.

In contrast, the substitution of nothing by nothing, as always identical to its nothingness, is all beings of which it can be the nothingness, hence all beings of which it can be the absence, then all beings. Indeed:

  1. For any other being not to be a substitution, it must be the substitution of nothing by nothing, as thus its own absence, and so nothing.

  2. For any other being to be a substitution, it must lastly substitute between two beings of which none is a substitution, then of which both are nothing, so it is also the substitution of nothing by nothing.

Hence, for being such an absolute substitution, the self-substitution of nothingness requires transforming “substitution” into another word, one built by replacing the Latin prefix “sub-” (under) in “substitution”—meaning “to stand under the defining determination of something else, or to cause that”—by the likewise Latin prefix “omni-” (all and each): the word “omnistitution”—meaning “to stand under the totality and each of all defining determinations, or to cause that.”

(From Possible Money onwards, this text integrates a book.)


Notes:
  1. Symbolically, if we let R = { x | xx }, then RRRR. [Main text]
  2. Likewise, the set of all sets can only mean all sets. [Main text]
  3. The meaninglessness of “everything,” instead of causing its falsity, would prevent it: only a meaning can be false. [Main text]
  4. The word “every” means both “all” and “each,” or “all as each”: by saying “not every being” to mean “some but not other beings,” I restrict the meaning of “every” to that of “all,” as does the word “everything” (all beings). To prevent that, I must make the meaning of “each” explicit in “every,” by rather saying “not every single being.” [Main text]
  5. Like the set of all sets, the being of all beings includes itself. [Main text]
  6. It is precisely because each being depends on all beings that we cannot conceptually abolish “everything” (all beings). [Main text]