LARUELLE’S LAG: self-publicity as first philosophy

François Laruelle is content with invoking the need for “empirical” philosophy, whereas Bruno Latour has been actually doing it for over 40 years. Gilles Deleuze’s collaboration with Felix Guattari, his books on Francis Bacon and on the cinema are empirical tests of his philosophy. Alain Badiou constantly confronts his ideas with the current state of four truth procedures. Bernard Stiegler deploys all his ressources to respond to the shock of the new digital technologies.

Laruelle is quite happy to assert that in contrast to standard philosophy, which deals with “Being”, his own non-philosophy or non-standard philosophy is oriented towards “the One”. It never occurs to him that some philosophers may have already formulated the same idea in different words. Deleuze talks about the “univocity” of Being, and later asserts that Being is the multiple. Latour talks about questioning the traditional primacy accorded to “being-as-being”, and of envisaging “being-as-other” as pre-primary. Badiou talks about Being as traversing worlds, and as irreducible to the Being of any particular world.

Laruelle’s new preface to his old book THEORY OF IDENTITIES, first published in French in 1992, is a masterpiece of self-rewriting and self-publicity that does virtually no conceptual philosophical work. He criticises the division of his work into chronological phases, which he himself instigated and had featured prominently at the beginning of each of his works, as superficial. Laruelle now prefers, i.e. decrees, that we view his work as a superposition of waves, thus denying all evolution.

Could Laruelle actually have made mistakes, changed his mind, or decided to reject ideas that he previously held but that were unduly influenced by his milieu or by intellectual fashion (such as the self-proclaimed, but never demonstrated, “fractality” of his own philosophy)? Apparently not. This is simply ruled out by his doctrine of “superposition”.

However, what is true for Laruelle is supposedly generic, and thus true for everyone else. It’s waves all the way down, and he should drop his insistence on a universal structure of philosophy. Deleuze already talked in these terms, but for him waves implied change and not stasis.

Laruelle is constitutively unable to break with his scientism, so the response of his Anglophone followers is simply to deny that it exists.

Publicity trumps conceptuality for these non-philosophical sophists.

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