CLEARING THE GROUND (3): Latour and the pluralist outside

As a pluralist I am against Laruelle’s (and his followers’) uniqueness hypothesis (although it is precisely not a hypothesis for him but an unquestioned and unquestionable fact). This is the hypothesis that Laruelle is the one and only non-philosopher, and that he alone has escaped philosophical sufficiency and speaks from a posture of immanence. I have argued that the exact opposite is true: Laruelle preaches non-philosophy, but he does not practice it very well.

The example of Badiou confirms my alternative hypothesis that on the contrary there are many non-philosophers, and that immanence is not an all or none affair, but a matter of gradation. Badiou, I argue is on the way to immanence, and further along that path than Laruelle. But this does not mean that I wholeheartedly endorse every aspect of Badiou’s system nor that I think he is the last word on immanence.

Another major transformation over my six years of blogging came from my encounter with Bruno Latour’s pluralist project AN INQUIRY INTO MODES OF EXISTENCE. I have been and remain both very enthusiastic over and very critical of this project, as my final evaluation of it shows. However, I do not criticise Latour for any lack of pluralism, but for the lack of democracy in his project.

The fact that Latour chose to publish this dissident fellow-traveler’s perspective in his retrospective catalogue RESET MODERNITY is a sign of Latour’s pluralism. Bruno Latour preaches pluralism, like many others, but he does not stop there – he actually practices the pluralism he theorises. Unlike the rather solipsist Laruelle, Deleuze and Guattari worked together as equals, Badiou and Zizek cultivate a form of philosophical friendship. Stiegler’s Summer Academy is a collective venture, and Latour seems to work best in a team.

AIME is a game-changer, in many respects. It has considerably upped the ante of what can lay claim to be counted as pluralism in thought. Lacan’s four discourses and Badiou’s four conditions, whatever their demerits, are nonetheless more pluralist than Laruelle’s simple two (the dualism of standard and non-standard). Latour acknowledges fifteen modes of existence and considers the list to be open, which is even more satisfying from a pluralist perspective.

I consider Deleuze and Guattari’s schizoanalytic project, which includes Deleuze’s cinema books, to be a timid contribution to post-Jungian thought. It is regrettable that Badiou and Zizek regress from this breakthrough by combining a pluralist ontology with a Lacanian image of the psyche.

Latour does not participate in this regression. He incorporates the positive advances of schizoanalysis into his AIME project, inluding it both within the mode of metamorphosis and within the fundamental ontology’s primacy of being-as-other. Hence his closeness to Jung, and to post-Jungians such as James Hillman.

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3 Responses to CLEARING THE GROUND (3): Latour and the pluralist outside

  1. Mark says:

    I’ve just come across your blog, it is particularly interesting to see a critique of Laruelle that might be readable to a non-philosopher (in the sense that I am not a trained philosopher!). Could you please point to your definition of Pluralism ?

    I was reading about deconstructivism some time ago, Deridda seemed to associate it with not being many things, including not being a philosophical system as far as I could tell. I was thinking of deconstruction as recursive. This seemed very similar to non-philosophy to me but when I tried to read a critique of Derrida written by Laruelle it was impenetrable. I usually take big words to mean a lack of understanding so did not persist with it. Does deconstructivism fit somewhere in the spectrum of Pluralism you have in mind ?

    My interest in Non-Philosophy comes through an interest in Non-Buddhism, are you familiar with that ? On the blog I found an empty post:

    You seem to be in the middle of drawing conclusions for the past 6 years of blogging. Is there an intention to move onto other projects in the near future ?


  2. Mark says:

    I became interested in meditation through consciousness studies, interest in meditation led to an interest in Buddhism. Some of the “insights” I was coming across in meditation got me interested in Non-Buddhism. That led to interest in Non-Philosophy.

    Considering two different types of knowledge. One is experiential and best developed through certain meditation practises. The other is analytic and best developed through philosophy.

    I suspect that both of these practises can lead to similar insights. The vocabulary is so different that the similarities are well hidden.

    The meditator will typically become enamoured with meditation and largely ignore philosophy. The philosopher falls in love with analytical thinking and largely ignores contemplative practises. Of course there are people interested in both but it is very rare to master both. I’d consider someone like Glenn Wallis who founded non-buddhism as an example.

    I’m hoping these two ways of thinking are like legs on which we can balance to take action. With only one leg action results in falling down.

    Is this making sense ?

    Coincidentally, I’m a Kiwi in France, I’d like to chat if you have time. Feel free to email me, I assume you have access to my email as I entered my email to enter these comments.


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