LARUELLE’S LAST HUMANITY (1): Laruelle without Agamben

THE INEFFICIENCY OF SUFFICIENCY

Thinking about the various philosophical responses to the Coronavirus epidemic, one is struck by how much they confirm Laruelle’s diagnosis of philosophical sufficiency. Those philosophers that have expressed their opinion on this subject have tended, as always, to simply apply their paradigm to the new circumstances and events without seeking to test their theories, and perhaps to transform either the ideas themselves, their relation to the world, or their use. They are convinced that their ideas are sufficient.

AGAMBEN’S STATE OF UNEXCEPTION

Giorgio Agamben is no exception. When he was confronted with a challenge to the one-sidedness of his thinking he chose consolidation over transformation. His analyses of the political impact of the measures of exception taken to manage the epidemic are a telling reminder that behind bio-management lies biopolitics. Yet this insight blinded him to the bio-experience of « surplus » deaths, of people dying from the inability of the neoliberally managed health systems to give them adequate treatment.

INVENTION IN THE REAL

Yes, the epidemic was « invented » (Agamben’s thesis), but it was invented in the real, with people dying whose lives would otherwise (under other bio-management practices) have been saved.

AGAMBEN’S RELIGIONISM

Laruelle, as far as I know, has not expressed his opinion on the Covid-19 epidemic, and so has remained truer to the apophatic ideal than Agamben. Agamben, having fallen prey to an all-encompassing religiosity, sees « religion » everywhere. He accuses everyone else of cataphatic idolatry.

However, by using « religion » as one of the key concepts of his analysis and in denouncing the hegemony of the religion of science, the religion of medecine, the religion of bare life, the religion of capitalism, Agamben combats the reductionism of scientism with another form of reductionism, religionism, a perspective that reduces everything to a religious explanation.

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