I think we must utterly reject such expressions as “syntax of the real” as incompatible with the rest of Laruelle’s system and as expressing the worst sort of naive empiricism.
Neither a cause in exteriority nor a dialectical identity of contraries, the Real is the cause by virtue of immanence and determines cognition of its own syntax, of its own causality, through a process that one would call ‘cloning.’ (Laruelle, INTRODUCTION TO NON-MARXISM).
There is a ludic aspect to Laruelle’s work, but this free play of the concept must respect certain rules that Laruelle himself is not free to alter. The Real cannot “determine the cognition of its own syntax” in any acceptable sense, as one cannot meaningfully attribute a “syntax” to the Real that must be transcribed as is in our cognition. Nor can the Real be said to “determine” its cognition, or even the cognition of its syntax, as the whole problem of scientific cognition is one of an under-determination that requires multiple hypotheses and relentless testing.
The closest we could get to a notion of “syntax of the real” would be within non-philosophy itself. One could talk of “non-philosophy’s syntax of the Real” but not of the “syntax of the real” in itself.This means that non-philosophy is still subject to a form of the principle of sufficiency that leads it to ignore its own status as world, and to project its concepts onto the real. The aporia is that of non-philosophy’s dictating to the Real that it dictates to us. This hypostatised real syntax dictating and determining unilaterally a “clone” is of the order of a phantasm, in the sense of a fiction that is unaware of its own status as fiction. This is why non-philosophy had to be abandoned in favour of non-standard philosophy, the clone had to be recognised as fiction, and thus as undetermined and multiple.
On the linguistic level, Laruelle’s syntax is typical French intellectual post-Mallarméan syntax, nothing special. There is no mystical “cloning” of the Real in his syntax, unless one thinks that the Real self-evidently conforms to a classical “subject-verb-object” base syntax that is complexified by the use of the rich hypertactic hierarchical structure of a syntax that privileges subordination over coordination.
So we must conclude that to be acceptable the expression “syntax of the real”, a two term relation, should be replaced by “syntax of non-philosophy”, which itself must be replaced by “syntax of thought according to the real”, a three term relation. The elision of one of the terms, “thought”, leaves us with a binary relation that creates a naive empiricist formula that can be combined with a dogmatic, pre-quantum, causal reading of DLI to produce the politicist reduction ofnonphilosophy’s thought, reduction that I reject.
One attempt to save Laruelle from the objection of empiricist naiveté has been to declare his style is “performative”. In this case we are no longer in the register of syntax, but in that of pragmatics. This does not help matters, and despite its groovy allure represents another form of reduction. “Performative” is another weasel-word, that comes very close to reading Laruelle’s thought as a form of idealism, where its expression creates the real it both performs and describes.
There is no radically alternative image of thought as long as foreclosure and unilaterality are still presupposed. These are non-philosophical concepts that need to be repudiated by the passage to non-standard philosophy and to quantum porousness. However, with this passage the whole pathos of “trauma” as our mode of contact with the real, associated with the retention of these presuppositions, collapses. Cognition of the real is from the outset ordinary, although not infallible, rather than traumatic. So the Lacanian pathos must be abandoned along with the terminology and concepts that support it.