This is a response to reading the excellent article by Katerina Kolozova on Laruelle’s non-marxism and on the need for monstrously radical concepts. It confirmed my feeling that the OOOxians’ concept of « correlationism » is a disastrous impoverishment of thought, and that one should not cede the semantic terrain to them but make full and open use of this potentially fruitful concept.
Alexander Galloway’s article (available here) and his reply to critics contain an interesting hesitation between a restricted use of the term « correlation » as in Meillassoux’s work (implicating a relation between subject and object, or between thinking and being) and generally affected with a negative valence as constituting an aporia to be overcome or sidestepped, and a more general use of the word as in Laruelle’s work and affected with a more variable valence.
The more general notion of correlation can be seen in Galloway’s discussion of the homology between the structure of Badiou’s ontology and that of capitalism. He talks of a « disconcerting conclusion…that a congruity exists between how Badiou talks about ontology and how capitalism structures its world of business objects ». He remarks that despite OOO’s « powerful critiques of correlationism » there has been no analysis of this politically more disturbing imbrication, and exclaims « so why a blindness toward this more elemental correlation? » I think that there is a more general notion of correlation that can be found in Laruelle’s philosophy and that Galloway is tending towards that more extended notion when he talks about a « more elemental correlation ».
Unfortunately Galloway does not consistently make use of this more extended notion and lapses into the OOOxian acception of the term despite an argument tending to dismantle the problematic supporting that acception. In his reply, lapsing into OOOxian terminology he talks of homology between object-oriented ontologies and the structure of capitalism as a « secondary correlation ». Thus giving rhetorical primacy to the OOO acception.
I must admit that I have tended to eliminate the word « correlation » from my philosophical vocabulary due to its imbrication in what for me is a naive and impoverished problematic. So I was initially a little non-plussed by Kolozova’s liberal but unfamiliar use of the word, in a favorable light. I saw that she was using « correlation » to designate a relation of thinking to the real « without the pretention that Thought in its constitution could ever be the direct reflection of the Real and vice versa » (2). Intrigued by this use of the word, I turned to Kolozova’s contribution to the book LARUELLE AND NON-PHILOSOPHY, another excellent article entitled « Theories of the Immanent Rebellion: Non-Marxism and Non-Christianity ». In this text I found the same more extended use of the term and a very useful explanatory note that I reproduce here in full:
« Laruelle, let us note, uses the term « correlation » in a different sense – it is a relation which is not « relationist », one that remains in the One, one that merely correlates with the Real without mirroring it, within the gesture of relative constitution of both terms. So Meillassoux’s « correlationism » corresponds to the non-philosophical notion of the relative mutual constitution of the Real and the Transcendental, i.e., of Philosophy’s Unity (of the Two) or auto-reflectivity » (p223, footnote 16).
I think that despite having to pass through Larellian jargon that this philosophical gesture has an almost « Wittgensteinian » effect of dissolving the OOOxian distorted usage of the term and bringing it back to a more « ordinary », even if non-standard, use.