Laruelle talks about the “sufficiency” not just of philosophy but of the various sciences, including biology and mathematical physics. This sufficiency is manifested in different forms of reductionism but also in the treatment of regional ontologies as autonomous. Such autonomy can only be relative, and is at best, in Laruellian terms, the philosophical equivalent of the theory of relativity. It is already a big step forward to realise that ontology itself can be relative to different domains or modes, but in itself this realisation does not go far enough. Regional ontologies insofar as they are autonomous and mutually incommensurable are pre-quantum, and are incompatible with superposition and quantum tunneling.

This is the main difference between Laruelle’s “non-philosophy” and his “non-standard” philosophy. Non-philosophy, like non-Euclidean geometry, suspends the principle of sufficiency and opens up the possibility of alternative accounts, a multiplicity of philosophy-fictions. Yet these remain mutually exclusive possibilities, merely juxtaposed, without being capable of interaction with each other leading to their transformation. The alternative fictions, like the regional ontologies, are hermetically sealed off from each other. Non-standard philosophy requires the further step  of suspending even this relative or “weak” sufficiency to see that there is a constant quantum flux that traverses the hard and sharp incommensurable boundaries between regional systems, and that vehiculates waves of both interaction and transformation.

Harman can be seen in relativistic terms, but this relativity is only apparent, as it is validated and subsumed in a a higher order absolutism. The relativity of the various regional ontologies of the humanities and the sciences is in contrast with the absolute nature of the withdrawn real. The difference between the various sensual realms is relative, but the division between real objects and sensual objects is based on their absolute difference in ontological status.

This absolute division posited by Harman’s system is itself premised on the existence of an absolute realm – that of being-as-being and of the real as repository of real objects. A more coherently pluralist philosopher such as Bruno Latour has no need of such an Absolute, as he posits being-as-other alongside being-as-being, and for Latour the pluralist principle of being-as-other has primacy. He polices the regional ontologies of the modes by means of his felicity conditions, that determine to what mode an entity and a type of veridiction is to be assigned. However, this regionality is semiotic in nature, and such semiotic regionality is not fully ontologically grounded, precisely because being-as-other has primacy over being-as-being. This primacy of being-as-other is not immediately apparent, as Latour hesitates sometimes presenting being-as-other as itself just another regional ontology, and sometimes as an omni-transversal ontological principle, cutting through all modes and giving rise to being-as-being by post hoc simplification and stabilisation.

In Laruelle’s terms, the elucidation and specification of the modes of existence is relativist, but being-as-other is “quantal”. The policing of bad or infelicitous crossings is relativist, the adumbration of fruitful or good crossings is, at least partially, “quantal”, a weakening of the relativist regional ontological barriers to allowinteraction, co-operation, composition, and so recomposition or transformation.


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  1. Pingback: LARUELLE AND WAVE ABSOLUTISM: against quantum integrism | AGENT SWARM

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