LARUELLE’S DE-PHILOSOPHY: confirmation bias legitimated

The problem with Laruelle’s attempt to escape from philosophical sufficiency is that he is only able to do so under the sign of a sketchy fusion, or suture, between philosophy and one or other of its conditions. This inevitably results in a form of reductionism passing itself off as genuine conceptual creation within a renewed, or non-standard, philosophy.

Laruelle’s sutures pass fluidly from science to ethics to psychoanalysis to aesthetics to marxism to gnostic religion. This has led to a fragmented Anglophone reception where each disciple latches on to the suture that confirms their own pre-existing theoretical engagements. Instead of dethroning the complacent self-absorption of the sutural specialist, Laruelle’s non-philosophy has elevated it to new heights.

This problem of reinforced sutures leading to a multiplicity of caricatural reductionisms (pseudo-science, crypto-religion, quasi-art, neo-marxism) is not so much an issue of translation as one of cultural transposition. The transplantation often results in partial petrifaction and de-philosophisation. This is not unique to the Anglophone adaptation of Laruelle’s ideas, as many other French philosophers (Derrida, Lyotard, Foucault, Deleuze) have undergone the same fate.

In the case of Laruelle this “de-philosophisation” has seemed to serve his own message of non-philosophisation, but is in fact its involuntary parody. The regression to older styles of structuralist theorisation is packaged as a progress in rigour and in relevant content.

An intriguing example of this de-philosophised regression is the expression employed by some Laruelleans “the syntax of the real”, which embodies a confusion of the real object and the theoretical object, recovering a pre-Althusserian conceptual constellation under a semiotic masquerade.

I say “masquerade” deliberately, because such regressive formulas show that words are being employed as de-philosophised jargon rather than as conceptual expressions. This regression adds to the regrettable state of concept-blindness (instigated and enforced by object-oriented ontologies) rather than fighting against it.

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