NON-STANDARD IS NON-SMUG: François Laruelle on the limits of non-philosophy

Laruelle has given a very interesting interview to PHILOMAG, where he surveys his philosophical motivations and contributions. I will translate and comment a few excerpts:

“j’ai introduit ce terme de “non-philosophie” au tournant des années 1980 mais je n’en suis pas l’inventeur et j’en ai d’ailleurs limité l’usage depuis”.

“I introduced this term of “non-philosophy” at the beginning of the 80s, but I am not the inventor, and furthermore I have since then limited its use”.

This is an important reminder for those who would attempt to give non-philosophy an over-inflated importance. “Non-philosophy” was an extension of philosophy beyond its usual limits, that standard philosophy was unable to see, taking itself to be unlimited. The function of the “non” in non-philosophy is similar to its role in “non-Euclidean”, not so much negation as variation and extension.

Philosophy has limits that it does not see, nor does it want to see or acknowledge them. It is self-satisfied with its perpetration of the intellectual and institutional hegemony of one type of philosophy. Such a standard, and standardised, philosophy is treated as if it were not merely hegemonic inside a set of alternatives, but self-evidently the way things are. For Laruelle standard philosophy is: inflated (in scope, in importance in its own eyes), limited (and unconscious of its limits), self-satisfied (Laruelle talks of the “suffisance” of standard philosophy, one translation is “smugness”), with a built in attitude of hegemony (with all that means of excluding and ignoring alternative views, lobbies, in-groups, cronyism).

After Laruelle had broken with the principle of sufficient philosophy, he noticed that the same thing was happening with “non-philosophy”, so he put limits to its use and moved on to something wider and more positive:

“J’ai donné à la formule un sens plus positif et un nom plus recevable pour les anglo-saxons, celui de “philosophie non-standard”. Je veux croire que je suis un philosophe loyal, peut-être trop passionné”.

“I have given a more positive meaning to the formula, and a name that is more acceptable to the Anglo-Saxons, that of “non-standard philosophy”. I would like to believe that I am a loyal philosopher, perhaps too passionate”.

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One Response to NON-STANDARD IS NON-SMUG: François Laruelle on the limits of non-philosophy

  1. landzek says:

    What other instances of non philosophy are there outside of Laruelle?


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