RENUNCIATION OF THE MENTORS, IRRUPTION OF THE ABSOLUTE

Laruelle’s THE PRINCIPLE OF MINORITY was published in February 1981, and it is the first book in his Philosophy II phase. It expresses a disappointment in the philosophies of difference and Laruelle’s enchantment by “the Absolute as such”. This disappointment led him to

renounce once and for all … the contemporary problematic of Difference, i.e. of relative and continuous multiplicities that it still inscribes in the hypostasis of Being, or of minoroties that it still implants on the body of the State (7).

This renunciation implied the sacrifice of those figures that had guided not just the work and the hopes of his predecessors and contemporaries, but his own philosophical research as well:

It then became necessary to sacrifice the tutelary genii, Nietzsche, Bergson, Heidegger, [who were] perhaps too tutelary not to abandon us at the moment when we would have wanted to go beyond their horizon in their company (6).

These philosophical deities could take us only so far, and when we wanted to go farther they abandoned us to our own resources, or rather to “the irruption, into the general thematic, of the Absolute” (6). This irruption of a new element, the Absolute or the One without unity, to take the “step beyond” Being, not into emptiness, but into a “beyond filled by the Principle of minority” (6).

The philosophy of Difference could give us only relative multiplicities, contained within the hypostases of Being, of the Idea, and of the State. Laruelle’s disappointment told him it was useless

to continue to work on it in order to get it to produce what it evidently is incapable of giving (6).

Laruelle considers that the promise of this philosophy has not been kept. What was this promise?

“the promise of breaking up Representation by elaborating a concept of becoming, of difference, of multiplicities beyond presence (7).

Far from breaking up Representation and taking the step beyond presence, and freeing the multiplicities from their relative limits, the philosophy of Difference was satisfied with

subordinating these multiplicities to the not so non-present essence of presence and simply refurbishing the old violence of reason (7).

Laruelle looks at the “new” philosophy of Difference and at the hopes that it inspired, and sees it to be “so disappointing, so violent, so voluntarist and activist, as if incapable of keeping its promise” (7). He concludes that it is not as new as it pretends: it contains the same old violence as the philosophy of Representation, the same false promises, the same enslavement of multiplicities. This “emotion” already contains within it the “step beyond”, as it involves not just disappointment and renunciation but acceptance:

Accepting the acknowledgement that this part of contemporary thought had been betrayed in the search for multiplicities by its excess of will and by the theoretical resources that it disposed of or that had disposed of it (7).

It seems that the very magnitude of our desire to go beyond the horizon of presence, and the very degree of our obsession were what held us back. We could not “break through” Representation by means of the resources provided by our tutelary figures nor by our own dedication and resolve. The Absolute is not won through to by active and wilful negation, but is attained more passively and patiently, by letting go, allowing oneself to be convinced, letting oneself be enchanted, not resisting:

Consenting at last to the One as to that which keeps the multiplicities beyond Being itself, as it keeps the minorities beyond the State (7).

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