This blog AGENT SWARM proposes an analysis and evaluation of recent tendencies in contemporary Continental philosophy. The overall guiding heuristic hypothesis: all these seemingly incommensurable tendencies can be grouped under the rubric of metaphysical research programmes. These different philosophies can be examined as metaphysical research programmes in the sense of Karl Popper. These metaphysical research programmes contain both testable scientific components and untestable (for the moment) metaphysical components.
I wish to examine François Laruelle’s non-philosophy and non-standard philosophy as a metaphysical research programme. It is important to see how Laruelle’s philosophy fares when examined in terms of a slightly different philosophical tradition. Laruelle talks a lot about science, but his small circle of Anglophone supporters have no idea of developments in Anglophone philosophy of science.
A specific lexical problem arises for Laruelle’s “non-philosophy”: if one uses its own vocabulary, it comes out as vastly different from and superior to its rivals. Non-philosophy in this sense is a self-indulgent exercise in tautological lexical oneupmanship. Yet we are witness to mealy-mouthed pronouncements about a so-called “democracy” of thought, claiming that there is no normative prescription to be “non-philosophers”.
Philosophers like Deleuze are condemned for failing to attain the goal of immanence, whereas non-philosophy supposedly attains this goal. There is much hypocrisy and double-talk among the “non-philosophers”.
From the beginning of my blog I have defended Feyerabend’s philosophy as proposing a pluralist, diachronic, apophatic, democratic ontology.
A second major thesis of my blog is that philosophically we are traversing a period of the reconceptualisation of pluralism, to articulate its relation to realism, and to distinguish it from relativism. This is what I have called the immanentisation of Platonism. Several philosophies partake of this movement, but no one philosophy is satisfying enough to absorb all the advantages of its rivals. Laruelle’s insistence on “quantum thought” is a very important contribution to the discussion of this reconceptualised pluralism.
My two general theses are thus:
1) recent continental Philosophies are metaphysical research programmes
2) a reconceptualisation of pluralism as realism is taking place.
On the more specific question of the value of Laruellean non-philosophy, it is necessary to examine the obstacles to its diffusion in English.
1) Non-philosophy is insufficiently translated, and Laruelle’s master work PHILOSOPHIE NON-STANDARD has yet to be transalated.
2) Most of the existing translations are seriously flawed, containing very numerous errors. The existing translators are not only not linguistically competent, but not competent in relevant epistemology and philosophy of science.
3) There is insufficient critical discussion of Laruelle’s theses. The existing discussion is mostly hagiographical. Critical discussion is stigmatised as for example “quasi-trolling”.
4) Laruelle’s style is obscure, mostly for terminological reasons: terms are undefined or very insufficiently explicated.
5) Laruelle’s self-description is problematic in that he presents himself as attaining the immanence that others aimed at without attaining.
6) Tautological validation: Laruelle’s vocabulary is designed to validate the superiority of his own philosophy compared to that of his contemporaries.
7) Ideological protective measures: ad hoc defences of Laruelle’s ideas have been elaborated, notably the notion of the “syntax of the real” and the pragmatic notion of performance. Both of these notions elude the very real semantic obscurantism. Both try to grant infallibility to Laruelle’s style.
8) Ignorance of relevant developments in Anglophone philsophy of science casts Laruelle’s scientism in a very unsatisfactory light.
9) Laruelle’s misdescription of the historical context, his “time machine”: much of what Laruellle says belongs to a 20 or 30 year old context. Many of his critiques were already anticipated and replies were elaborated decades before he advanced them.
10) Laruelle’s Anglophone presenters write each under a particular suture: religious, political, artistic, or scientific.