There was a very interesting analysis of the notion of “critique in France in the wake of May 1968. Creative philosophers like Deleuze, Guattari, Lyotard, and Foucault analysed the critical position itself, its negativity ie its founding itself on notions of lack and negation and againstness, and its “derivativity” ie its basic dependence on the problematic of those it criticised. Marxist dialectics, Lacanian psychoanalysis, deconstruction were found to be fundamentally flawed approaches. The alternative that emerged was in each case a pluralism (of intensities, language games, epistemes, force relations, modes of existence, processes of subjectivation. There was no attempt to eliminate negativity and critique, (this would have been too evident a pragmatic contradiction in those long lost times before OOO replaced argument with impudent bluff and hypocritical denial of the obvious) but only to dissipate its primacy.
Laruelle went through a long phase of apparent “critique” in his philosophy I, but only a naive reader blinded by Lacanism could fail to see the Nietzschean and Heideggerian positive terrain that underlies these investigations. Laruelle himself came to criticise this phase, not because of its supposed negativity but because of its positivity. This positivity was still limited to the confines of the denegation of immanence constitutive of philosophy. Laruelle came to call this conformist conception of positivity “sufficiency”, and began to think outside of its confines.
Michel Serres during all that period of critique of the critique was doing epistemology, pluralist epistemology, and criticising the old images of thought and their transcriptions in physics. One must not read just a fragment of his work, eg his interviews with Bruno Latour where he gives a very one-sided summary of his views and of his evolution, omitting the context provided by such like-minded thinkers as Deleuze, Lyotard, Foucault, Bourdieu, and yes, already during the 70s, Laruelle. For Serres in his positive theory translation and interference, networks and creation out of noise, go in all directions, and there is no primacy of physics for example over philosophy. When he is being polemical (but against who? In each case one must ask oneself the question), he will declare that philosophy is parasitical on the sciences. But he also declares that philosophy can be anticipatory, something that Badiou denies.
When Serres criticises “critique” he is in fact criticising the pre-1968 theoretical postures of hermeneutic and structural critique, and aligning himself many years after the fact on similar pronouncements by Foucault. He converts these positions into more general conceptual personae that continue up to the present day, but one must be careful to see that this critique of critique is less sophisticated and less informed than those of his contemporaries, and cannot be extended without travesty to the poststructuralists (whatever Serres himself may think).
Similarly when Serres criticises “epistemology” he is not doing the sort of auto-critique that Laruelle has shown himself capable of. Nor is he criticising the great tradition of Anglophone epistemology, of which he knows next to nothing. He is thinking of the French sense of epistemology, which until recently denoted primarily regional epistemologies (of physics, of chemistry, of biology, of history, etc.). When he says that such epistemology is useless, merely a retranscription in epistemological jargon of the ontologies of these diverse domains, he is saying something fairly obvious, and of very limited application in the field of Anglophone epistemology. As I have argued on this blog this characterisation (sterile epistemological retranscription of ontological premises abstracted from the purported methodologies of different scientific domains, especially physics) is characteristic of Roy Bhaskar for example, and of the OOOxians who rely on his work.
Laruelle is a far less scientistic thinker than Serres, who has never gone beyond his scientistic premises. Laruelle’s name, during the decade of his Philosophy II, for the positivity beyond critique was science. He came to see that this primacy of science was yet another ruse of philosphical sufficiency and broke with what he himself calls his “scientism”. He now affirms that the non-philosophical pairing of philosophy and science is just one possible way of doing non-standard philosophy, and that other pairings, eg philosophy and photography, are equally possible. Serres on the other hand has repeatedly declared his adhesion to the primacy of the Grand Narrative of modern science as a way of rebutting post-structuralist pluralisations. Viewed in Laruelle’s terms Serres at best, on a charitable reading, is a curious mix of arguments and concepts from Philosophy II and Philosophy III styles of thought.