AGAINST LOGOPHOBIA: a plea for diversity of philosophical vocabularies

Some people might be puzzled at the very idea of François Laruelle participating in a Summer School on « ontology ». After all, he is known for a position that sharply limits the utility of traditional philosophical vocabulary, and that seeks to propose more satisfactory vocabularies. I argue that this concern is more semantic than substantial, an instance of a new logophobia,. This context-blind attachment to words would impede cross-continental understanding if allowed to flourish unchallenged.

This tendency is an embarrassing phenomenon in Continental philsophy, where a breakthrough in thought slowly but surely gets transformed into a repetitive discourse in the disciples and scholars that promote it. Words finally lose any cognitive meaning, and become tokens of membership in some group. For example a committed Deleuzian will talk in a stereotyped fashion, and will probably reject Badiou in much the same terms as any other Deleuzian, without any engagement with underlying problematics, that could give renewed content and meaning to their partisan positionings.

This seems to be the case with the disciples, students, and advocates of François Laruelle’s non-philosophy. The theory is so general, giving the universal structure and limitation of all philosophy, that our minds risk becoming numbed once we make the initial leap of commitment to exploring its ideas and their consequences. This is why I advocate the confrontation of such a non-standard philosophy, « non-standard » in terms of certain norms that one may argue are not universal, with alternative, or riva,l non-standard conceptualisations and their corresponding vocabularies. Increased testability and democracy, on both sides, will arise from the ensuing discussion.

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