Continental philosophers have mastered a vast literature that has both widened their thought and cloistered it. Some references have become so ingrained that any attempt to think philosophically without positioning oneself with respect to them. Who would dream of discussing the psyche without making any reference to Freud and Lacan?  Who would dare discuss Capitalism without citing Marx and Althusser? Foucault already came under criticism for his attempt to break away from these obligatory reference points in order to think more freely.

Bruno Latour manages to renew our vision of the psyche, in his chapter on the metamorphic mode, without appealing to the heavy and heteroclite apparatus of Freudo-Lacanian thought. In this matter Badiou is a conformist, being happy just to adopt Lacan as the most important psychoanalytic reference and then criticise and go beyond while leaving unchanged the basic framework. ANTI-OEDIPUS was sociologically a failure, in that the bulky edifice of Continental thought reconstituted itself around the breach that it opened up, except for a minority of thinkers who concluded that Continental philosophy could no longer be the same after this book. Latour’s AN INQUIRY INTO MODES OF EXISTENCE re-opens that breach. This is something that Laruelle’s non-philosophy was never able to do wholeheartedly, and Laruelle’s ambiguities have permitted regressive syntheses of non-philosophy and Lacan, or non-philosophy and Marx, when it is not just annexed by the religionist reductionism as a means of legitimating a refined and élitist sublimated religiosity.

Latour himself consecrates one form of refined religiosity, but thankfully restricts it to just one mode out of fifteen. As for the “psychogenic networks” that he describes, this shows us a way out from the dogmatic fixation on Freudian and Lacanian concepts that makes much of Continental philosophy into a word-game for initiates.

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  1. Myriam says:

    But must one avoid these cynosures of Continental philosophy at all cost? If I remember correctly, Deleuze, in D&R, provides three different accounts (philosophical, psychoanalytical and physical) of the three passive syntheses, thus remedialising through the channels of the communicable the ideas yet to come – so, couldn’t these established discourses provide helpful grounds for newer investigations, even decidedly deviant?

    Liked by 1 person

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