PHILO-FICTION

The term “philo-fiction” is employed by François Laruelle to mark his transition from the negativistic critique of philosophy embodied in his practice of “non-philosophy” to a more positive phase termed “non-standard” philosophy.

A very clear definition of “philo-fiction” can be found in François Laruelle’s EN DERNIÈRE HUMANITÉ: La nouvelle science écologique, page 82, my translation:

“Philo-fiction is a genre parallel to science-fiction, a lowering of dogmatics and of philosophical axiomatics to the state of fiction”.

The coinage of the word philo-fiction is perhaps best explained in terms of French usage, rather than of etymology. In France in the last year of high school everyone has at least two hours of philosophy a week. The abbreviated name for this subject is “philo”, just as “maths” is the contraction used to designate “mathématiques”. Everybody who has been to the end of high school has done at least two hours of “philo” a week in their final year.

I quite like the word “philo-fiction”, and I use it in my analysis of a certain type of science fiction, such as Neal Stephenson’s ANATHEM, Kim Stanley Robinson’s AURORA, and also China Miéville’s EMBASSYTOWN and THE CITY AND THE CITY. I use it in order to make it boomerang against the pompous proclamations of those who feel much happier and more comfortable talking learnedly about recondite scholarly references than discussing science fiction.

François Laruelle’s “non-philosophy” as imported into the Anglophone world is rapidly becoming a parasitic venture whereby a small exclusive ambitious pressure-group can conquer a niche market by presenting a de-fanged critique of philosophy’s infeudation to transcendence.

Non-philosophy aims at theoretically divesting “standard” philosophy of its principle of sufficiency. However, in practice this highly conceptual form of critique does not call into question in any real way the overbearing manner, the dogmatism, the intellectual (and institutional) exclusionism, and the avoidance of critical discussion inherent to these non-philosophers’ academic habitus.

Given that non-philosophy critiques the “principle of philosophical sufficiency”, where “sufficiency” means not just completeness but also condescension, we are faced with a performative contradiction. How can anyone stake a claim to non-philosophy when they show that they are incapable of abandoning the transcendence associated with the role of the university professor?

“Philo-fiction” is one of the names for Laruelle proposes for his attempt to find a solution to this impasse.

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2 Responses to PHILO-FICTION

  1. Equally, the kind of populist tendencies that the masses subscribe to, are ‘he(a)rd transcendences’, as it were. Resorting to mass conceptualities is, or can be, just as much a ‘flight’ or ‘escape’ into the habit(us) of a transcendental exclusivism or dogmatism.
    ‘Transcend’, only signifies to not occupy, or be overly determined by, a specific set of conceptual givens, & the combinatoric-discursive field they govern. As such, it’s very much a contingent variable; it’s supervenient on there being specific sets of conceptual givens to transcend; which, of course, there always are, in any language use that assumes contextual referentiality.
    One of the things that interests me, is the generation of those contexts, their radical production. In this, both SF & Indian thought, are of interest if one seeks a thorough exploration of all possibilities available. Western traditions of Philosophy are, to me, a subset of SF.

    The “lowering of dogmatics and of philosophical axiomatics to the state of fiction” that you refer to

    The production of “the pompous proclamations of those who are much more comfortable talking learnedly about recondite scholarly references than discussing science fiction.” is just the unrefined ore of mainstream consciousness that is available to SF.

    “highly conceptual form critique”

    They don’t know the first thing about conceptualisation. They can’t, because their inventio is stuck in what are essentially atrophied structures of presuppositional dogma. Under such constraints, they are condemned to a perpetually archaic quaintness. They don’t understand this because they are basically governed by the same undeveloped populist outlook, which can be characterised as ‘non-SF’.

    Liked by 1 person

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