LARUELLE, DELEUZE, BADIOU: The One without unity vs the Metaphysics of the One

“Deleuze’s fundamental problem is most certainly not to liberate the multiple but to submit thinking to a renewed concept of the One…We can therefore first state that one must carefully identify a metaphysics of the One in the work of Deleuze” (Badiou, DELEUZE, 11).

Alain Badiou’s DELEUZE, THE CLAMOR OF BEING was published in French in 1997. He isolates what he calls a “metaphysics of the One” in Deleuze’s work, without referencing, and seemingly  being unaware of, Laruelle’s critique of the philosophies of difference, begun in 1981 in his THE PRINCIPLE OF MINORITY. As we have seen in the preceding posts, Laruelle advances a similar critique to that elaborated by Badiou, diagnosing a continued adhesion to a metaphysics of the One as being the source of the failure to break through Representation.

Laruelle’s solution is to produce a new concept of the One that is not bound by Badiou’s opposition between “liberating the multiple” or “submitting to a renewed concept of the One”. His solution is to propose and explore the consequences of  a renewed concept of the One, that would not be metaphysical, with the explicit goal of liberating the multiple. In the preface to THE PRINCIPLE OF MINORITY Laruelle declares that this is the driving intellectual and emotional force behind his concept of “the One without unity”.

This concept of multiplicities without difference is reiterated  and expounded more clearly in the next book that Laruelle published, A BIOGRAPHY OF THE ORDINARY MAN. This came out in 1985, and it is the second book in what Laruelle began to call his Philosophy II. It is a more systematic work than the PRINCIPLE OF MINORITY, and is written in the form of a “manual” containing a  series of 140 concise “theorems”, each accompanied by a more lengthy commentary. The first theorem is

There are two sources, two paths of minoritary experience and thought. Minorities as “difference”, implanted on the body of the State and of Authorities in general. And minorities which are real beneath difference: individuals as such or without qualities, “ordinary men” whose concept is no longer that of difference and who precede the State.

It is important to note that after DIFFERENCE AND REPETITION and LOGIC OF SENSE Deleuze too let drop the problematic of difference, to turn to a theory and practice of free multiplicities. The concept of the One without unity is a far more adequate description of Deleuze’s position than Badiou’s reading  of it as embodying a metaphysics of the One as opposed to a problematic of non-unitary multiplicities. Deleuze’s LETTER TO A SEVERE CRITIC (1973) contains a very useful description of the impasse that a representational philosophy of difference leads to, and of the need to break with the mere representation of multiplicity in favour of a performative enunciation and enactment of free multiplicities.

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