LARUELLE’S LAST HUMANITY (3): Laruelle with Zizek

QUANTUM LIVING vs NEWTONIAN LIFE

This Laruellean critique of « life » as a positive concept, one that needs to be transformed by a generic quantum operator, clarifies Zizek’s reserves over Adrian Johnston’s attempt to reformulate his philosophy in terms of biology rather than quantum physics.

AGAINST THE LAYER-CAKE MODEL

The concept of « life » for both Laruelle and Zizek needs to be transformed by means of a generic quantum vision. This is not to be viewed in terms of the scientistic reductionists « layer-cake » model, where physics is treated as obviously a more fundamental layer than biology.

IN THE LAST INSTANCE

As Althusser used to say, the last instance never comes. For both Laruelle and Zizek there is no final, or foundational, layer, no reductive last instance that could « come at the end ». The last instance is equally the first and also every other instance-as-transformed (by the quantum).

IN THE LAST HUMANITY

Each and every stage or layer is quantized, including « positive » quantum physics itself, which must be divested of its dogmatism and its sufficiency. Laruelle’s title for his book on non-standard ecology, THE LAST HUMANITY, is an allusion to this problematic that is common to Laruelle, Zizek, and Stiegler (and perhaps Latour). New ideas are interpreted reductively in Newtonian frames.

RELIGIONISM AS CATAPHATIC IDOLATRY

The last humanity is a quantized humanity, radically freed of cataphatic concepts such as « life » in the ordinary sense. Such cataphatic concepts are the essence of religionism.

Religionism, no matter how generalised or sublimated, idolizes concepts. Laruelle has too many religionist disciples (even when they call themselves Marxists).

BIO-RELIGIONISM

Babette Babich has shown the importance of Ivan Illich’s critique of the modern concept of « life » in understanding the ideological, and very practical, stakes of much discussion of the coronavirus epidemic:

 

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