In my last post I considered Katerina Kolozov’s construal of the context of philosophical thought today: the context for her is a set of philosophical projects that try to break with postmodern and poststructuralist thought and its claims to limitless plasticity, which cloak a loss of the real and of the self, combined with political impotence. A dynamic discourse about the possibilities of endless reconfiguration reveals itself to be confined to linguistic idealism and political immobilism. The solution she envisages is a new form of realism, and she sees the signs of at least an aspiration to this realist solution in “Speculative Realism” although she discusses only Quentin Meillassoux), and also in the work of Slavoj Zizek and Alain Badiou.
Kolozova finds the most complete and the most satisfying theorisation of this break into realism in the work of François Laruelle, “grounded in his claim that philosophy itself is the source of contemporary thought’s self-circumscription and its paralysis in addressing reality” (CUT OF THE REAL, 3). This self-circumscription, Stiegler’s “hyper-limitation”, has primacy and induces paralysis, Stiegler’s “hyper-inhibition”, as its logical consequence, according to Kolozova:
“the political problem of contemporary philosophy identified by the “new realists” is, in fact, the product of a more fundamental epistemic problem” (1).
The more fundamental epistemic problem is that posed by what Meillassoux calls “correlationism”, the “correlationist presupposition that dominates and limits “postmodern theory”. (Note: I have argued that this rather ambiguous expression of “postmodern theory” designates primarily a configuration of thought best described as post-Lacanian eclecticism). The correlationist prejudice presupposes that we cannot think outside our thought, and so that we cannot think, or cognize, an outside. All supposed “reality” is correlated to thought and must conform to its requirements.
Kolozova invokes Laruelle to establish the possibility for a different sense of “correlation”, to reverse the direction of the arrow of correlation. Instead of subordinating the real to a system of thought, thought is freed from its systems and “correlates with the real as the authority in the last instance” (3). At this level of description, I can only agree with Kolozova. It corresponds to what I would call a pragmatic turn as mode of exit from the limits of the linguistic turn. The philosopher of science Paul Feyerabend describes how the notion of incommensurability (of scientific paradigms, but also of philosophical systems, and of anthropological traditions) threatened to seal us off not only from communication with those thinking and speaking in terms of other paradigms, but also from the real itself. His solution was, like Kolozova’s version of Laruelle, that words and concepts in real life are not exhaustively correlated with one paradigm or system of thought, but are used more freely and more ambiguously, allowing dialogue between those who disagree even on the most fundamental assumptions about the world.
This pragmatic strand of Kolozova’s thought is a big step forward from the linguistic idealists. It is behind the idea that we need to “disorganize” philosophical systems and reduce it to the status of transcendental material whose concepts can be used outside any wholesale fidelity to the original system. Disorganize the systems, liberate the concepts, correlate them with immanence – this is a very sympathetic program. Yet these prescriptions are associated with another set of indications that negate their liberatory potential by encrusting them in a scientistic carapace.
(to be continued)