JTH at atheology has given a very fair and open-minded reply to my remarks on the battle for cognitive hegemony (originally a comment to his post on verificationism), expressing his reservations about Deleuze and Guattari’s narrative of the attempt to gain mastery by imposing one’s discipline as “the official language of a pure State”. I too am ambivalent about this  primacy narrative, in the sense that in WHAT IS PHILOSOPHY? it still gives philosophy a meta-function of being able to form philosophical concepts based on the functions of science and the percepts of art. However, I think they come closest to undoing the primacy of philosophy, that for example Badiou still maintains. Another problem is that this narrative is demarcationist and excludes the transversality that they defended in earlier works. I do not worry about which of the candidates (ontology, physics,  psychoanalysis, epistemology, linguistics, cognitive science etc.) for hegemony is right, as if we subtract the primacy claim and its reductionism they are all right in that each explains important aspects of the other, and must do so to be complete eg cognitive science must explain, without reduction, scientific cognition and not just error.

I think that Meillassoux’s use of “correlation” leads to a comic book version of the history of philosophy, and in the strict sense very few important philosophers of the last 100 years have been correlationist. They often consider something like correlationism and eliminate it as a mere preliminary to the serious work. Popper’s critique of the bucket theory of knowledge is a good example, as is Althusser’s critique of the “problematic of the subject” (and this is where the normalien Meillassoux probably got the concept, rebaptising it and advertising it as new). I try to give a more extended concept of correlation as a positvie overcoming of subjectalism in 4 posts taking off from Katerina Kolozova’s Laruellian analysis: My antipathy 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.

““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).

Correlation in this extended sense would be totally compatible with transversality of research and gives “primacy” not to any discipline but under the name of “determination in the last instance” to the Real or to the “source of immanence”.

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  1. Jason Hills says:


    Good find.


    • dmfant says:

      if I do add things that might help us to get clearer about which way to go next than that will be to the good, I hope over time that the personality conflicts will ease up but I fear that there may not be enough space/breathing-room for folks between what they are putting out there in terms of ideas/possibilities and how the think/feel about themselves, maybe there is something to the more therapeutic aspects of the kinds of modes of individuation that Terence is working out here that could help us get out of the gossipy cliques/feedback loops that so enchain the academy…


      • Jason Hills says:

        Thanks, DMF.

        I apologize for occassionally being a bit snippy. I would say that much of the problem has less to do with cliques and feedback loops, as those are symptoms of something much larger. At least around “here,” you’re spending a lot of time with the traditions of philosophy that have been exiled from the institutional protection of mainstream philosophy, and thus there are many material conditions pushing people’s buttons.

        Over at the SAAP FB page we just had a long chat about this, while noting that the downturn actually made things worse. Oh, “we” would include dozens of scholars from the most junior to senior. One of the problems we have is how to survive as Americanists within the institutional dominance of analytic philosophy, which is a notable problem because so very few in fact survive and end up exiting the academy. Hence, appeals to pluralism from analytics often fall on deaf ears (I’m not saying this is happening right here), because the Americanists are more worried about economic and institutional practices than who has the theory right. And I think that there, like the local blogosphere, is a driving factor in the “cliques” and such.


      • terenceblake says:

        Getting clearer is one of my goals, as is opening up a wider and more plural dialogue. Disarming conflicts (personal and otherwise) in favour of free exchange is not impossible. Sometimes I have felt that it was on the verge of happening, but that something intervened to thwart it. So let’s keep pushing in that direction.


      • dmfant says:

        I understand that there are lots of intense pressures on/in folks but the gossip world is by and large the folk human world and it takes intentional efforts to try and sublimate some of our drives/interests to do otherwise. I just hope that in these small reserves on the intertubes we might be able to ease up a bit on trying make our mark, earn our place in the primate troop, and especially our need to already be right and focus more on trying to make things right, but than I’m a pragmatist by nature.


  2. dmfant says:

    hey TB, yes as Wittgenstein/Deleuze have shown us there are limits to conversation/debate/negations especially when it comes to differences in the faith(religious or otherwise) convictions/orientations that can separate people/world-views. So knowing this seems to call out for some different approaches to the traditional academic style to and fro but I’m not sure that we have made much progress on what comes next, looking forward to seeing what experiments we might come up with if we can ease our way out of our habituated socializations a bit and test some new prototypes/forms.


    • Jason Hills says:

      I was noting the material organization as you, DMF, note more the discursive. I gave a concrete example to illustrate the reality of the issue, but I did not mean to imply that the issue is merely personal. So how can what appears to me a discursive approach address so many problems?


  3. terenceblake says:

    Convergence, consensus, or even dialogue are required by no law or rule, and may not always be possible or even desirable. An open exchange includes many intensities, including the polemical. Creating and trying out new types involves some sort of exchange with “intercessors” that are not so much dialogical partners as stimulants to research and to experiments in living. So not being right, nor even making things right, but making things richer, more differentiated, more fluid, more mobile, more satisfying etc. An intercessor in this sense can be just as often adversarial as collaborative, as long as he or she does not lead us into sterile repetition. Improving my enmity by deepening, extending and intensifying it can be just as positive and enriching as flourishing into friendship.


    • dmfant says:

      TB,sure we all have our own tastes/interests.
      JH, roughly following Pickering’s work (TB has a lot about it around here if yer not familiar) on the mangle of practices not sure how (or why really) we would cleanly separate the material from the discursive, or the personal from the environmental. As for why try something new I guess if one is satisfied with the current trends than one could carry on as usual, to each their own as I say above, 1,000 flowers bloom and all…


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