LARUELLE’S SCIENTISM: tabula disorganisata vs tabula rasa and the degrees of unilateralisation

Kolozova declares that Laruelle has been “inadequately labelled” scientistic CUT OF THE REAL, 3), but this seems to have the status of a ritual denial in the face of overwhelming evidence, as the proofs she advances are rather weak. First is the notion that scientific descriptions and interpretations “communicate with a variety of theories” and schools of thought, instead of being limited to their correlation with just one paradigm or system of thought (as in philosophy). This cross-paradigm communication is very important if we wish to escape from discursive hyper-enclosure, hyper-limitation, and hyper-inhibition. Yet it is affirmed in a pre-Kuhnian way, as if the really existing sciences were not hampered in their practice by systemic closure and ignorance, neglect, or repression of “anomalies” that do not correspond to the predictions of the paradigmatic theories. It neglects also the numerous cases of philosophical communication across paradigms.

The criterion of cross-paradigm communication as a demarcation between science and philosophy is weak both historically and sociologically. It does not describe science as we know it, but some sort of ideal that exists but only by intermittence, in any domain, including that of philosophy. Kolozova associates this criterion with a methodological description which is itself very questionable.  In philosophy thought correlates with a system of thought having transcendental authority – Kolozova talks of the “dictatorship of the transcendental” (3). Non-philosophy positions thought unilaterally with respect to the real. Kolozova calls this the first step in the procedure of “radicalization”.

This radicalization of concepts as escape from the dictatorship of the transcendental has much to recommend it, and I am here only objecting to certain formulations that seem rather empiricist, or even inductivist. Non-philosophy, we are told, “observes the effects of the real”, “reacts” to its workings, “builds its own syntax”, and then subjects this syntax to the real (3). Unfortunately, this description itself does not correspond to the real workings of science but to a positivist phantasm. The prescription to disorganize the systems of thought is meant to liberate concepts from the imposition of the whole conceptual apparatus they are embedded in, it is in no way a prescription to observe the real without concepts and to react passively to its workings. Tabula disorganisata is not tabula rasa.

Further, we cannot observe the real without concepts, so the comparison of our hypothetical syntaxes with the real cannot be a simple one way relation. Unilaterality cannot then be an absolute status, an all-or-none procedure. This is what is suggested by the terminology of reduction to a transcendental minimum and determination in the last instance. These are diachronic concepts, describing a process that can only provisionally be halted, despite their seemingly definitive intervention. Kolozova makes use of a diachronic language, and talks of the “non-philosophical process”, and “in the last instance” can be understood as a temporalising concept. Kolozova talks of abandoning the “pretention to absolute refelction”, but I think that this implies also renouncing the pretention to absolute unilaterality.

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