CLEARING THE GROUND (2): Blindness (Laruelle) and Insight (Badiou)

I have been summing up my six years experience of philosophical blogging, and trying to describe the movements and transformations in my thought that have resulted from this digital experiment.

In a previous post I recounted how I moved from an initially very positive evaluation of Laruelle’s non-philosophy to a much more mitigated one. In parallel I moved from an initially hostile perspective on Badiou to a positive evaluation of his most recent work. It is difficult for me to discuss the one without the other as a key turning point in my renewed appreciation of Badiou was Laruelle’s ANTI-BADIOU, which I first reviewed favourably, as locating some very important problems with Badiou’s philosophising, but then came to criticise as failing in its goal.

Laruelle falls prey to the philosophical sufficiency that he diagnoses in others, due to his uniqueness hypothesis: the assumption that there is only one non-philosopher, namely himself. Deleuze, Derrida, and Badiou are excluded quite explicitly. A second objection is that Laruelle himself fails to speak from immanence insofar as he remains “Laruelle-the-only-non-philosopher”. Laruelle is thus blind to the elements of non-sufficiency and of real immanence in other philosophers than himself.

The case of Laruelle’s treatment of Badiou is quite exemplary in this regard. At first sight BEING AND EVENT seems a perfect case of philosophical sufficiency. Badiou also seems to aimat immanence and fail to attain it immanence due to the “strong” systematic thought that his philosophising mobilises and exemplifies.

My argument is that this diagnosis is only partially true of BEING AND EVENT, much less true of LOGICS OF WORLDS, and irrelevant to the work leading up to Badiou’s forthcoming IMMANENCE OF TRUTHS (to be published in French on January 17, 2017). If we take into account this development we can see that, contrary to Laruelle’s claims, Badiou’s defense of philosophy leads him both to a stance of non-standard philosophy and to a posture of immanence. Badiou’s philosophy is non-standard, or non-sufficient, because it places philosophy under conditions instead of posing it as absolute. It is also what I have called “on the way to immanence”.

I do not think that “immanence” is an all or none affair, so a part of my argument has been internal, comparing Laruelle’s claims, and self-publicity, about his project with his actual achievements. Rhetorically I have attempted a reductio ad absurdum by conceding to Laruelle that “non-standard philosophy” exists, arguing that it is a matter of degree, and showing that Laruelle is far more “standard” than he claims to be, and that some of those he criticises are more “non-standard”, according to his own criteria.

Proceeding externally, I argue that Badiou’s placing of philosophy in relation to an outside and under conditions, his recognition of the importance of learning from anti-philosophy, his turn to pluralist phenomenological worlds in LOGICS OF EVENTS, and his subsequent attempt to think the effects of Truths under the condition of their immanence to multiple worlds are all factors that counter systematic sufficiency and that embark Badiou on an a-parallel encounter or non-convergent dialogue with Deleuze (for more details see: https://terenceblake.wordpress.com/2016/07/17/badious-becoming-deleuze-a-personal-observation/).

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