LARUELLE’S SELF-MISREADING

PROCESS NOT STASIS

We cannot remain fixated on one phase of the historical process or of our intellectual biography. I have been very influenced by Deleuze, but I certainly do not belong to the “Deleuze can do no wrong” school that will just paste on any ad hoc explanation that comes to mind to cover over any serious objection.

Deleuze died 22 years ago. Badiou, Zizek, Latour, Stiegler, and Laruelle are alive and writing today. They are more legitimate inheritors of Deleuze than many of those who dominate the discussion of Deleuze in English. « Legitimate » in the sense of continuators in the spirit and not just in the letter.

I have been reading Laruelle since I moved to France in 1980. I am not viewing Laruelle through the eyes of others so much as elaborating a meta-ontological perspective to get all these thinkers in virtual dialogue given that none of them seem capable of dialoguing in reality..

HEURISTICISE vs STRUCTURALISE

My analysis of Laruelle is ongoing, some of it can be found here. Laruelle published his polemical book ANTI-BADIOU although by his own admission he has not read much Badiou, and has certainly not followed the four years of seminars on the immanence of truths.

I am no dogmatic partisan of Badiou. In the past I argued quite strongly against Badiou’s system in a way that is convergent with Laruelle’s treatment, for example here.

However, my later experience with fellow-travelling Latour’s system has led me to treat all such systems as assemblies of heuristic suggestions. On this blog I am now re-reading Badiou’s seminars in that pragmatic light.

LARUELLE’S STRUCTURALISM

Badiou tells us that philosophy is an act, and not a substance:

“If philosophy is an act, there is no last philosophy” (Theory of Evil, Theory of Love, 49).

Laruelle’s mistake is to treat philosophy as a substance and to try to isolate its universal structure, called by him the « principle of philosophical sufficiency ».

For Badiou there is no “principle of sufficiency” of philosophy, except when its concepts are replaced by its philosophemes. Philosophy, on this view, is not sufficient, it does not produce or constitute its truths. Philosophy is conditioned, it seizes on or apprehends its truths from outside. For Badiou, philosophy is conditioned by the four truth procedures (science, art, politics, love), it is not auto-positing nor is it hermetically sealed in on itself. It opens onto the Outside.

In contrast, Laruelle talks constantly about the invariant and universal « structure » of philosophy and of the Philosophical Decision, e.g. in PRINCIPLES OF PHILOSOPHY:

« Through this structure, philosophy claims to determine itself beyond all its empirical determinations which it only calculates in order to prescribe it in an auto-position in which it is titular, an auto-comprehension or auto-legislation, auto-naming, etc. »

« Let us recall that philosophy, as undecidable decision, structure of division and repetition, contains a specular mirror moment, sometimes developed under a speculative form »

« the speculative structure of any philosophy is divided in two in each one of its dimensions »

« the general structure of the Philosophical Decision »

« the taking into account of the facticity of philosophy itself in its essential structure »

« [Non-philosophy] … delivers itself from the axioms which defined the structure of the Philosophical Decision »

« we must have first elaborated the philosophical given, under the most universal and most invariant form in which it can present itself—“Philosophical Decision”, a structure combining a Dyad and an immanent and transcendent unity in the Dyad »

DIAGNOSE THE IMPLICIT

Some people object that this is a misreading of Laruelle, as he does not « say » explicitly that philosophy is a substance. However, it is an implicit assumption of his structuralist method. Laruelle in effect misreads himself. He is in performative contradiction between his (pragmatic) thesis of philosophy as act and his (structuralist) thesis of the principle of sufficient philosophy.

Note: I am indebted to a discussion with Taylor Adkins for helping me clarify my ideas.

I have dealt more extensively with some typical objections to my reading of Laruelle here.

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