Non-philosopher François Laruelle provocatively declared in an interview « Laruelle does not exist ». Unfortunately, this modest enunciative content is in strict contradiction with the enunciative form of his philosophical writing, which stages Laruelle as a conceptual character in a philo-fiction of which he is the protagonist and all of his contemporaries are the antagonists.
It is important to bear in mind the scope of Laruelle’s theses for his « non-philosophy » in order to evaluate their pertinence and their degree of veracity. He claims to have isolated an invariant in all of philosophy, not just in a certain number of philosophies.
However, this same « invariant » was isolated before by Deleuze and Lyotard under the name of « representation ». The critique of representation and identity is a common trope of recent French theory.
Laruelle is no innovator but gives us a version that is simplified conceptually even as it is complexified lexically.
Further, Laruelle never gives any example of a non-philosopher other than himself, nor does he indicate that there exists a strong non-philosophical current in the work Serres, Latour, Deleuze, Derrida, Guattari, or Badiou. His thought is best taken as a pedagogical preamble to these thinkers. Taken as standing by itself it represents a serious regression.
One aspect of my analysis of non-philosophy that seems to surprise some readers is that I deny that Laruelle’s work is non-ontological or non-metaphysical, except by idiosyncratic (and dishonest) definitional fiat.
Thus my concern with the defects is substantive rather than merely formal, what I reject is not so much the self-aggrandizing tone but the deceptive content.
Nobody in contemporary French philosophy has an ontology in the old sense. All propose a non-standard ontology. This is in accord with Zizek’s point that all ontology is failed ontology.
Deleuze talks in terms of a plane of heterogenesis of consistences and not of existences, Stiegler rejects ontology in favour of ontogenesis, Lyotard ruled out positive ontology in his regimes of phrases approach, Badiou’s ontology is non-standard (as Zizek argues), and Latour posits « being-as-other’ alongside « being-as-being ».
Laruelle in making the difference between the Real and philosophical worlds has an ontology, however minimal. In fact it is not so minimal as that. Despite appearances he does not talk about a Lacanian real, in a horribly regressive move he identifies the Real as Man-in-Person.
I do not say we should not read Laruelle, only that his production while interesting and useful is neither unique (his project is one among many similar research programmes), nor accurate (he misrepresents his adversaries and contemporaries), nor adequate (he lags behind other thinkers on crucial issues).