LARUELLE AND « RELIGIONISM » (1): sufficient and generic usages

For Benjamin Noys

I am not so much concerned with the empirical with the empirical existence of Laruellian religionists in the macroscopic corpuscular sense than in the pervasive presence of a more diffuse « undulatory » sensibility. This religionist sensibility may be hard to pin down – but it can be found even within Laruelle’s own texts. « Religionism » is a form ofphilosophical sufficiency, or suture, on a par with scientism, and consists in the reductive determination of the real that gives primacy to a religious hermeneutics over the generic matrix that assembles different sources into a non-standard philosophical model by relieving them of their respective principles of sufficiency.

Laruelle wishes to move from conceptual sufficiency, or determination, to « conceptual formalism », and from a determinate materialism conceived as a monism of matter to an open pluralism conceived as mobilising a « multiplicity of conceptual matters or materials » (PHILOSOPHIE NON-STANDARD, 10). Laruelle’s texts, even those most explicitly focused on « religious » problems, exhibit this multiplicity of matters, which requires at least 3 elements: philosophy, relieved of its sufficiency; a « classical » domain (science, religion, art, politics); and a generic assembler (de-mathematicised quantum theory).

What has primacy in the last instance (or « pre-priority ») is the most generic element. A particular conceptual material will often have generic elements, or a generic potential, imprisoned in its specific sufficiency – which is not just a matter of a « principle » of sufficiency, but comports a number of operators of sufficiency, localisable in the texts. This is why Laruelle can claim that Badiou « re-normalises » potentially revolutionary discoveries, resorting to a sufficient usage of concepts that are also capable of a generic usage. (In a review of Badiou’s collected articles on the cinema I argued that they are often less dogmatic than his more technical writings in that they embody a more generic usage of the same concepts.

Thus one and the same author can exhibit both sufficient and generic usages of the same concepts. This is why Laruelle, who declared in an interview that « Laruelle does not exist » should have affirmed with equal validity « Badiou does not exist ». For Laruelle Badiou’s texts correspond to a philo-rigid renormalisation of generic themes yet a more charitable, generic reading is also possible. My hypothesis is that Laruelle himself is not always and everywhere equally generic and is often characterised by philo-rigidity and sub-genericity.

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