PRO-LARUELLE ANTI-SUTURE: Badiou and Non-Philosophy

The recent spate of Laruelle posts on this blog is an interlude in my recent plateau of texts on the relation between Deleuze and Badiou. I think I have at last managed to give general form to my ideas on Laruelle’s intellectual development.

I argue that the reception of Laruelle’s work in the English speaking world has been hindered by the conflation of its own context, problematics, and stakes with the situation, agenda and presuppositions of one or another particular aspect of Anglophone philosophy, as represented and promoted by particular interest groups. This conflation of a general philosophical thought with one of its specific dimensions is called “suture” by Badiou. 

Laruelle’s thought has been sutured with each of the four “conditions” of philosophy described by Badiou (science, politics, psychoanalysis, and poetry) and also with religion, a “site of thought” that arguably constitutes, or once constituted, a “fifth” condition. This has led to a de-naturing of the understanding and impact of  Laruelle’s non-philosophy in the Anglophone world. To sum up my position: I am pro-Laruelle, but anti-suture.

I will probably be returning to my more positive appreciation of Laruelle’s recent quantum thought on my tumbler site, laruellequotes. I am in a rather delicate position as I wish to promote Laruelle’s thought, but combat the particular misunderstandings or limiting perspectives that I have encountered.

Laruelle scholars often differ in their mode of apprehension and general approach, and these differences can be tied to the type of suture to which they subject Laruelle’s thought. However, as in the case of OOO these scholars do not air their disagreements in public debate, as all critical discussion (an essential trait of philosophy), of each others’ views and of Laruelle’s ideas, is avoided. Thus my own attempt at critical analysis may not be greeted enthusiastically and joined in by the diverse parties. However, anyone with a passion for (non-)philosophy will welcome the opportunity for clarification that my texts strive to provide.

To the budding or confirmed non-philosopher I would pose a few simple questions:

Are you really happy philosophically to be associated with scientistic rhetoric? with deterministic marxism? with old-school lacanian concepts? with gaseous religious sensibility? If so, then why spend a second of your time on non-philosophy? Surely non-philosophy teaches us to be vigilant against capture by any of these reductions.

François Laruelle published ANTI-BADIOU in 2011, discussing Badiou’s philosophy as a case of “the introduction of Maoism in theory”. As far as I know, there has been no reply by Badiou or by any of those sympathetic to his project. While by no means accepting all of Badiou’s theses I feel there is something one-sided and erroneous in Laruelle’s analysis. I have undertaken the sketch of a response, not by replying to the book itself, but by doing the same sort of thing: describing how Laruelle’s project appears when viewed through Badiousian spectacles.

In my response, I talk of five reductionisms in the reading of Laruelle: scientistic, religionist, psychoanalytic, politicist, and linguistic (or “poetic”, in Badiou’s terms). None of these reductionisms are purely and entirely erroneous, each of them understands and develops a real dimension of non-philosophy, but inflates it into the foundational grid for reading the whole. These Laruellian reductionisms are based on sutures, in Badiou’s sense.

Laruelle himself has explicitly recognised that he was formerly guilty of scientistic reductionism in his previous work, and considers that he has now gone beyond his previous scientism. However, he does not explicitly address the Anglophone reductive readings, nor more generally does he consider the possibility that the other forms of suture constitute a foundational grid for reading his work.

There exists a sixth reduction and it is perhaps the worst, a fusion of the religious and of the linguistic sutures: oracular esoteric semantics. This is praticed by is practiced by those who combine an intense existential pathos and an obscure intellectual-sounding jargon, with little or no real content. They just “channel” non-philosophy, with no concepts and no arguments. They vaticinate, they do not discuss.

Needless to say, this behaviour is not at all in the spirit of non-philosophy. To go “beyond” philosophy you must already have reached philosophy. Laruelle did not write over twenty long dense books on the basis of pathos alone. His own works are argumentatively and conceptually quite demanding.

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