My feeling about the use of the word “correlation” changed as a result of 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 part of the disastrous impoverishment of thought propagated by their philosophy, and that one should not cede the semantic terrain to them but make full and open use of this potentially fruitful concept.
I was intrigued by the fact that Alexander Galloway’s texts hesitate 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. Unfortunately Galloway does not consistently make use of the more extended notion and lapses most often into the OOOxian acception of the term despite advancing an argument tending to dismantle the problematic supporting that acception. Further, he calls the more extended notion, when he talks of the homology between object-oriented ontologies and the structure of npost-fordist capitalism, “secondary correlation”, thus giving rhetorical primacy to the OOO acception.
I must admit that up to now I have tended to avoid the word “correlation” 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, with a positive valence. 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 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.
I still do not like the notion of correlation, but if we are going to use it I would say that Alexander Galloway’s so-called “secondary” correlation between neo-liberalism and OOO is in fact primary. On this view, there is no disjunction between politics and ontology, and attempts at imposing such a disjunction are themselves politically contaminated. The political is not just one side of a disjunction, it is constitutive of the World.
Badiou accepts the ontology/politics correlation as posing a problem to his own system, but claims to get round it via the Event and Eternal Truths. If we do not accept that solution then we are stuck with the problem of not wanting to reflect or reinforce in our enunciative structures what we purport to critique at the level of enunciated content. Ontology exists under the condition of politics.
So for Badiou, we are presented with a binary choice: eiither his miracle-endowed materialist dialectic or resigned democratic materialism. This does not exhaust the possibilities for Feyerabend, who probably has more in common with Laruelle than one would think at first sight. According to Feyerabend there is a third possibility: “mysticism with arguments” (“Is argument without a purpose? No, it is not; it accompanies us on our journey without tying it to a fixed road”). This is very close to Laruelle’s gnostic theorems.