ZIZEK AND LARUELLE: scientism and non-standard philosophy

Zizek’s search for a non-standard ontology brings him close to Laruelle’s non-standard philosophy on a number of points.

1) Zizek like Laruelle criticises standard philosophy, its sufficiency and arrogance, and both seek to construct a non-standard thought. Zizek would say to Laruelle: OK on the critique of standard philosophy, welcome to the club, this is what we have been doing for many decades.

2) Zizek like Laruelle has moved on from standard representational philosophy to a performative philosophy. Unlike Laruelle and his followers, Zizek does not think that performativity equates with self-confirming infallibility, as he does not accept the principle of unilaterality that Laruelle dogmatically clings to as a leftover from his preceding “non-philosophy” phase. For Zizek, the subject and its distortions are inscribed in the real. Thus performativity supercedes unilaterality. Another way of expressing this is to say that Zizek proposes a Moebius unilaterality, where there is no way of saying which of the subject and the real determines the answer in the last instance.

3) Zizek like Laruelle criticises the arrogance of standard philosophy. This is close to a virtue ethics approach to ontology. Arrogance is not just an epistemic vice, it is also an ontological vice: one cannot say the real in an enunciative form imbued with arrogance.

4) Zizek’s work moves beyond critique of Deleuze’s putative “pre-critical” realism and of that of his imitators, and makes free use of Deleuze’s concepts as material rather than as doctrine. This pragmatic approach is in line with his Deleuzian inheritance. Deleuze long before Laruelle called on us to treat his philosophy as material rather than system. Zizek’s recent more positive take on Deleuze is part of an ongoing attempt to “de-freeze” Deleuze that many others share.

5) Zizek like Laruelle proposes a new concept of the real consonant with quantum physics. In Zizek’s case this concept of an incomplete and inconsistent real is convergent with the vision of quantum theory without being derived from it. Laruelle painted himself into a corner with his repetitive demonstrations of non-philosophy and his dogmatic scientism, and so required outside supplementation by means of quantum physics to free him from this enclosure of his thought. The scientism, however, remains a dominant element.

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