AGAINST SPECULATIVE AMNESIA: we have never been correlationist

I am an independent researcher in the domain of pluralist epistemology and ontology. The starting point of my research is the analysis of the knowledge process proposed by philosopher of science Paul Feyerabend, whose work is an important contribution not only to epistemology but also to ontology. Feyerabend’s work contains an ontological dimension from the very beginning, but this was often not noticed or ignored. In the last decade of his life Feyerabend devoted much of his work to elaborating an ontology that reconciles both the speculative boldness and plasticity of pluralism and the empirical modesty and testability of realism.This ontological is far less known than his epistemological work, which was itself misunderstood because many readers were unaware of, or insensitive to, its ontological underpinnings and consequences.

The research on Feyerabend’s pluralist realism led me to the study of contemporary French post-structuralist philosophers whose epistemplogical and ontological positions seemed convergent with those of Feyerabend: Foucault, Deleuze, Lyotard, Serres. I was less interested in Derrida as his work, although pluralist, seemed shot through with an ambiguity about the question of realism. This impression was in part due to certain of his disciples who were guilty of linguistic idealism, and also to a certain unwillingness on his part to engage with the question of technology.

Unfortunately, with the death of Feyerabend in 1994 and of Deleuze in 1995, the intellectual agora in Continental philosophy was increasingly dominated by a form of partial regression where a diluted pluralism was conjoined with a refined monism, as one can see most clearly in Badiou’s philosophy. Such a “passive regressive” context made possible the rise of more radically regressive philosophies such as those of Quentin Meillassoux and of Graham Harman. A key factor in facilitating the seeming plausibilty of these nostalgic productions was the propagandistic re-writing of recent intellectual history by Badiou and Zizek, in particular the pure and simple deletion of Deleuze’s philosophical development in the 70s. The later Deleuze was written off as an interpolation, not the “real” thing, and Badiou’s and Zizek’s philosophies were offered as an advance on the Deleuze of DIFFERENCE AND REPETITION and LOGIC OF SENSE. Derrida was dismissed as idealist, and Lyotard, whose research articulated a pluralism deepened and reinforced by a post-metaphysical ontology, was intellectually marginalised as far as the philosophically cultivated was concerned.

However, other more pluralist forces were hard at work. Laruelle’s non-philosophy can be seen as a critique of those elements in Deleuze’s philosophy of difference that allowed the later misreading by Badiou and Zizek. Deleuze himself was led to criticise those same aspects thanks to the movement in his thought produced by the encounter with Guattari. Deleuze and Guattari together thus launched themselves into a form of “non-standard” philosophy that was sometimes more euphoric than pedagogical, despite their own warnings about the need not to deterritorialise too fast. Their appeal to the primacy of a non-philosophical understanding seemed justified by the enthusiasm of the post-68 public, yet slowly but surely the collective mentality was “reset” and the presuppositions that made their work comprehensible were no longer shared, and came to be forgotten. An academic reading of their work established itself, and its non-philosophical charge was neutralised in the argumentative give and take of those for or against various philosophical theses that could be extracted from their writngs.

Luckily Laruelle was working all this time to drive a wedge between such philosophical recuperations and a non-standard approach. Latour was working on a non-philosophical approach to science and technology, culminating in a pluralist ontology of modes of existence. And Stiegler was deconstructing what remained undeconstructed within Derrida’s philosophy, and within post-structuralism in general, and anchoring his pluralism of processes of transindividuation in a realism borne out by his engagement with the constitutive role of technology in such processes.

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