THESES ON THE IMAGE OF THOUGHT: Zizek, Latour, Badiou, Laruelle

1) My englobing philosophical context is that of the contemporary search for an immanent pluralist, diachronic, egalitarian, apophatic, realist, testable ontology.

2) Such a pluralist ontology can be treated as a metaphysical research programme, and evaluated in terms of some very simple criteria, and also in comparison to rival or alternative programmes.

3) This sort of critical discussion is not « trolling ». It may be counter-intuitive for some people, but informed, reasoned, balanced critique is not trolling. Such stigmatisation of real work is anti-democratic, to say the least.

4) I have consistently argued for the need to take alternative research programmes into consideration. François Laruelle’s non-philosophy project may seem plausible examined in isolation, but it does not perform very well in comparison with Bruno Latour’s AIME project or Badiou’s Immanence of Truths project. Laruelle’s own practice of conceptual exclusivity is reflected in the dialogical exclusivity practised by his disciples. Latour’s AIME is deliberately inclusive. This is a big asset of AIME, both conceptually and practically, it may have a party-line but it does not ban alternatives.

5) There are two interesting images of thought that have given rise to contemporary metaphysical research programmes in Continental Philosophy: the quantum image and the performance image. These are in opposition to the domiance of the structuralist image.

6) The most radical version of the quantum image of thought is given by Slavoj Zizek’s recent work, while the most radical version of the performance image is given by Bruno Latour’s AIME project.

7) François Laruelle attempts to give a version of the quantum image, and some of his followers have tried to develop a performance image in his name. In both cases their thought is not radical enough, because they are caught in un-criticised structuralist presuppositions.

8) The problem is to elaborate a form of pluralism that does not fall back into relativism. One of the biggest dangers to thought today is the post-truth image of thought that one may call democratic relativism.

9) Zizek and Latour are pluralists, their most recent thought is devoted to providing a grounding for truths, and to avoiding relativism. Laruelle’s thought is a fall back into the democratic relativism of « all thoughts are equal ».

10) The Laruellean performative hypothesis rejoins the Althusserian thesis of theory as theoretical practice. However, Althusser required a political evaluation of performances. Performance alone is not enough, the attempt to make it so is idealist.

11) Another example of the performative image of thought is Bruno Latour, who tells us that there are quite different felicity conditions for performances in the different modes of existence or veridiction, each with their different temporalities, and actualities.

12) The problems of evaluation and of testability cannot be avoided, mere performance is not enough. It requires criteria of success or failure.

13) Laruelle identifies the « vice » of philosophical sufficiency but is himself unable to propose a virtuous alternative. In view of Laruelle’s claims to scientific status and his inability to respect his own criteria we must conclude that his non-philosophy is pseudo-science.

14) Performativity can only be seen as positive when its use is non-foundational. A foundational use of performativity is one that makes, or purports to make, something true by the mere fact of its being enounced. This is the vice of democratic relativism.

15) Such is the scientism of Laruelle. His work claims to give us a « science of philosophy », but the only proof offered of this structuralist claim is performative: the repeated enunciation of the non-philosophical character of the texts.

16) Laruelle’s use of this philosophical material is abstract, universal and essentialist, whereas Badiou’s use is in comparison concrete, historical, and dialectical. Laruelle’s attempt at new performativity fails, it is sufficient vice and not pluralist virtue.

17) Worse, Laruelle is incapable of recognising a more virtuous performativity when he comes across it in Badiou, and instead of citing Badiou in a democratic pluralist spirit as a successful exemplar of his own goals, and hailing his non-standard usages, he re-essentialises them.

18) Laruelle poses important questions, but his answers are useless. The questions can be turned back on him. His demand for new uses of conceptual material is inspiring, but he does not go very far in that direction. Despite his promotion of the revisionary semantics of philo-fiction and the pluralist pragmatics of performance his own dramatisations are poor and graceless.

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9 commentaires pour THESES ON THE IMAGE OF THOUGHT: Zizek, Latour, Badiou, Laruelle

  1. Ping : THESES ON THE IMAGE OF THOUGHT: Zizek, Latour, Badiou, Laruelle – The Philosophical Hack

  2. landzek dit :

    You have been so helpful in my journey. I don’t know whether you can see that in me I don’t know if you read that book that I sent you I don’t know if you really read the essays I write in my blog.

    But I have to say that since I met you on the blog verse I did not understand entirely what you’re getting at. Of course I had a feeling that we are pretty much talking about the same thing, but I am not sure that you see that I am talking about the same thing as you.

    But in any case I followed your blog all these years and we have at our interactions, which in my eyes are always positive, even if argumentative.

    You have helped me now in this post to see that what I’m really talking about is basically one side of the situation. In fact in the book that I just finished I make the Point of how I am not talking about an ontology, then I am not making any sort of argument about what being is. And at the same time I make a certain discussion about how a pate killer kind a philosophical argument is always an ontological argument.

    And so with your designation here in this post I would say that I fall in the Laruelle Camp, but that I see where he fails; and from my view, Where he fails is exactly from the standpoint of Zizek ontological argument. .It is through the non-philosophical analysis of ontological argument that arrives at the condition which capital is positing by the very argument that he makes even while he is unable to make it a perfectly sound ontological argument for it self.

    Where Laruelle Fails is exactly where I am able to pick up and speak to the truth of what is Zizek , and most probably Latour (but I find that he actually over to her terminals and makes more complex the situation and really needs to be, so I never really addressed him because I just don’t agree probably with how complex he makes it) Yet without agreeing with the mode by which he makes his ontological argument, and in fact I am able to basically “hack” inches is yet without agreeing with the mode by which he makes his ontological argument, and in fact I am able to basically “hack“ into Zizek General argument to show why Laruelles fails.

    And so I wonder, and I mean this in no insult because I don’t really know you’re comes and going’s, is it seems that you are involved with authors that have been very significant in your life through your life, since you were there with them in time. But I wonder if you fail to engage with authors such as myself (if you don’t mind my plug) Who are in away taking up the Patha Who are in away taking up the Batan in a very pluralist fashion, but without the pomp and circumstance celebrity hood.

    My question is why does it seem like anything authentic Hass to be confirmed by these big-name philosophers?

    Why can’t a small names, you included be just as authentic and just as legitimate as these big-name widely published authors without having to constantly referred to them as this somehow their thought is more substantial or saying something more significant than what we are saying down here in the trenches why can’t a small names, you included be just as authentic and just as legitimate as these big-name widely published authors without having to constantly referred to them as is somehow their thought is more substantial or saying something more significant than what we are saying down here in the trenches ?

    Sure I might be calling up up a false dichotomy in existential truth, but there is a political truth to be considered here: What significant ideas are being just overtly avoided for the sake of discussing these celebrity authors?

    I mean if you think about it in terms of music, if you mind me saying so, it’s as if Led Zeppelin and Ozzy Osbourne in the Beatles make better music than the guy whose lives down the street for me that’s playing a show at the Fox this weekend.

    What is it really saying about my impartiality and my willingness to embrace truth, when I’m constantly reifying that the guy who’s in a band is playing a show at the Fox this weekend doesn’t make music that’s even comparable to say the Beatles?

    Just a thought.


    • terenceblake dit :

      Hello Lance, the answer is yes of course I often engage with « small names » (like you and me) and if you look through my posts you will see me thank many people for the discussions I have had (far more often than you do, by the way). My rule is that I only discuss when I have something to say. A second rule is to really read the texts, and to let any generalities derive from that hard work. A third rule is to respect the paths people follow (with their time, their work, their energy, their heart) and not indulge in opinionating.
      So any » silence » on my part probably stems from applying those three rules, and not from any snobism or misplaced hostility.

      Aimé par 1 personne

  3. landzek dit :

    Damn auto correct; i’m not going to go back and correct all the auto correct problems. So I hope you can get the jest of what I’m saying and even with the stupid computer technology nonsense auto correct. 😆


  4. landzek dit :

    But this is not to say that I don’t enjoy reading the big celebrity names or that they don’t have something significant to say; but it seems to me that you’ve got something pretty significant to say and if I might say so I think I got pretty something pretty significant to say also. And I’m finding blogs here in there also a various authors who have something significant to say.


  5. landzek dit :

    Btw: I think #8 states the point, what I call the issue at hand, very well.


  6. landzek dit :

    …. oh, and the way I stay on one side, because I don’t believe there is a possibility of abstaining from falling into relativity, is to erect a partition. Such that I must speak about things in a particular way, and one of the ways I designate this particular manner of speaking is to say out right that I am not making an ontological argument.


  7. landzek dit :

    If I understand you correctly; you use of “performative foundational”. I think what you mean by that is when I say that post modernism thinks that just because it can that it should. And I mean this in the sense of just because my thoughts conform whatever sort of conception, and/or manipulate sense and logic to come to certain conclusions, then it must be valid ontologically and therefore existentially.

    And then what you’re saying about non-foundational, it seems to me that you’re saying what I say, when I point to the problems that such a position has allowed for. In other words just because I can think it and I can formulate it into a sensible discourse then it must be the case. And I kind of say that no, it may be the case given a certain set of conditions but it is not the case in an actual real sense and actually creates more problems in confusion than it solves or helps anyone.

    Can you agree with that is that kind of what you’re saying, I mean not the opinion that I make but at least the names and the meanings that I’m associating with them?



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