I will be discussing Laruelle’s article « I, the Philosopher, Am Lying », A Reply to Deleuze, translated by Taylor Adkins, Sid Littlefield and Ray Brassier, published in THE NON-PHILOSOPHY PROJECT Essays by François Laruelle, Telos Press, 2012 (pp. 41-75).
I read Deleuze and Guattari’s WHAT IS PHILOSOPHY? when it first came out in 1991 and was deeply disappointed. I found the text very unsatisfying, and if I had read Laruelle’s « reply » when it was published in French in 1995 I would have undoubtedly agreed with his arguments. However, today I have mixed feeling about both.
1) AGAINST DEBATE
Philosophical debate is neither interesting nor perhaps even possible unless it is oriented toward thought’s outside (NPP, 39).
Laruelle begins with a non-philosophical maxim that rejects philosophical debate as enclosed in the principle of sufficient philosophy. This sufficiency sterilises philosophy by enclosing it within a wall that cuts it off from the « outside ». This non-philosophical maxim is also a Deleuzian maxim, which Laruelle admits:
we have to thank Deleuze for having stated this so clearly and in such a rigorously principled manner (39).
I reject this principle of refusing debate as showing the psychological and sociological rigidity of Deleuze and Laruelle.
2) PRAGMATIC CONTRADICTION
Laruelle accuses Deleuze of contradicting himself by debating debate, disputing dispute, communicating his refusal of communication.
it is also necessary to explain the abandonment of dispute and its justification in the essence of thought and the real. The ultimate residue of any critique of communication is to communicate one’s reasons for abandoning communication (11-12).
Laruelle calls this putative contradiction between enunciation and enunciated content an example of Deleuze’s « naiveté », as if he were on the same plane as the solipsist who is a proselyte for solipsism. Hence the title « I, the philosopher am lying ».
In fact, Deleuze does not naively assert his opposition to dispute and communication, but has a well-worked out explanation in terms of the necessity of problems and the « forced » nature of thought.
I agree with Laruelle that Deleuze is guilty of philosophical sufficiency on this point since he overstates his case and his proof is incomplete. This sufficiency is only relative, as it is contradicted by arguments elsewhere in Deleuze’s work for an a-signifying porosity that exists between problematics.
Laruelle as usual is too absolute in his judgments of « sufficiency »: it must be all or none. He cannot allow that sufficiency may be relative, variable, and unevenly distributed.