LARUELLE ANTI-SEMITE?: a strange misconstrual of a continental trope

Updated: Jon Cogburn enthuses over references to Eric Auerbach but seems utterly indifferent to the actual French context of Laruelle’s thought-tropes.

Responding to a blog discussion that uses the charge of accusation of anti-semitism leveled against Laruelle to problematize the non-dialogue between OOO and Laruellian non-philosophy:

I am not a Laruellian, but I have lived in France for 33 years, and have constantly read French philosophy. I was at first surprised by the prevalence of this Greek/Jew trope when I arrived, but by now I am quite used to it and don’t see any reason for all the fuss. If you look at Lyotard’s JUST GAMING (1979), he keeps up all through the book an opposition between the Greeks, or the pagans, and the Jews. The Greeks symbolise a pluralist thought that ultimately leads to relativism, and thus expresses Lyotard’s earlier views in for example LIBIDINAL ECONOMY, and the Jews symbolize a thought that refuses the category of ontology and that gives primacy to ethics. This is also expressed as an opposition between metaphysics and deconstruction. As Lyotard himself passed from a “pagan” phase to a “Jewish” phase, I see no essentialism. Also these are shorthand phrases that Lyotard will occasionally concretise as Homer’s ILIAD and ODYSSEY  and the TALMUD. Or as language games: the pagan language game has no determinate criterion of judgement to guide in the application of the law, the jewish language game acknowledges that there is a law but that we do not know what it is, paganism privileges multiplicity and judaism alterity, etc. None of this is a racial essence. It goes back at least to discussions by Blanchot and Levinas of going beyond Heidegger’s “Greek” limitations. We can find the trope in Deleuze and in Derrida etc.

So when Laruelle wants to claim that the Jewish mode of thinking does not undo the sufficiency of philosophy he is criticising Levinas’s and Derrida’s pretentionto do just that. These are tropes of images of thought, that bear other names too, and are not reducible to empirically existing populations or texts that instantiate them to varying degrees. These tropes are used by Blanchot, Levinas, Derrida, Lyotard, Deleuze and Guattari. Not to mention Hubert Dreyfus and Sean Kelly in ALL THINGS SHINING, and Paul Feyerabend in CONQUEST OF ABUNDANCE

Laruelle declares that Levinas breaks with philosophy’s authority by appealing to a pure transcendance, but that Derrida brings this break back inside philosophy: (2006). Yet THE FUTURE CHRIST suggests that this break does not really separate Levinas from philosophical Worlds: “Neither Levinas nor Heidegger freed themselves from the vicious circle of the World from which, via diverse operations, they perpetuated the humanly fruitless conflict. Only the heretics use the Greeks without being Greek in thought, and the Jews without being Jews in affect” (110). This confirms my hypothesis that Laruelle’s usage is to be seen in the French context of struggling to conserve Heidegger’s phenmenological radicality but to overcome the ethical deficit of his philosophy. This is Levinas’s and Blanchot”s, and Lyotard’s goal (cf Lyotard, HEIDEGGER AND THE “JEWS”, where the “Jews” are kept in inverted commas to distinguish the mode of thought and of affection from empirical instantiations).

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One Response to LARUELLE ANTI-SEMITE?: a strange misconstrual of a continental trope

  1. Pingback: On Obsessive Slander and Non-Philosophy | An und für sich

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