From the beginning of Theory of Evil, Theory of Love we are faced with the question of how to orient ourselves in thought. The lecture notes available online for this seminar (which diverge slightly from the official published transcription) talk of the “doxographic orientation”). Badiou also comes back obsessively each year to the orienting theme of the “end of philosophy”, a thesis that he combats with great force. He also mentions another orientation, provided by religion, that rivals with philosophy for the definition of evil.
Taken up inside philosophy, these themes become “philosophemes”, images of thought that constitute obstacles to its process. Philosophy is a perpetual combat with its images and philosophemes.
As a philosopheme, the thesis of the end or closure of philosophy is a pseudo-orientation, a disguised form of disorientation. I do not know how Badiou characterises the present conjuncture of thought, we will have to wait for the publication of THE IMMANENCE OF TRUTHS (and perhaps of a third MANIFESTO FOR PHILOSOPHY) to be sure. There are many indications that the dis-orientation has progressed and that our resulting distress has deepened.
Today the situation is different, we no longer have to confront the same philosophemes, or at least not to the same degree, as we have been though a “speculative” revival. There remains one avatar of this sophisticated hostility to speculative philosophy, a fossil from a prior age depicting itself as a more radical programme of research.
François Laruelle’s “non-philosophy” has impressed certain spirits with its purported radicalisation of immanence and its pursuit of “non-standard” assemblages of thought in which philosophy is of its pretensions to self-sufficiency and hegemony. Non-philosophy began under the mask of a scientistically oriented research outside of the enclosure of “sufficient” philosophy, but it came to reveal behind that mask its roots in religionism. The majority of Anglophone Laruelleans are religionists, the rest maintain a self-serving silence on this point.
In Badiou’s terms Laruelle has progressed from philosophy sutured to the condition of science (his self-confessed “scientism”) to its suture to the pseudo-condition of religion. For Badiou religion is not in the current epoch a condition of philosophy, it does not put into operation a fifth truth procedure. Rather, religion proposes an image of truth, it is in rivality with philosophy’s proposition of a category of truth.
Laruelle’s mistake is to treat philosophy as a substance, and to try to isolate its universal structure. Badiou tells us that philosophy is an act, and not a substance:
“If philosophy is an act, there is no last philosophy” (49).
For Badiou there is no “principle of sufficiency” of philosophy, except when it is replaced by its philosophemes. Philosophy is not sufficient, it does not produce or constitute its truths. Philosophy is conditioned, it seizes on or apprehends its truths from outside.