This post arises out of reflecting on two strands of argument as they play out over time in Laruelle’s texts
1) The evolution of the status of “science” in Laruelle’s work
2) Laruelle’s ways of escaping critical debate by his sweeping invalidation of objections (however persistent and recurrent) and in particular by his prohibition of arguments by retorsion (or tu quoque).
I find these two strands contradictory.
Supposedly « retorsion » is an inadmissible philosophical device, and yet Laruelle practices it constantly in Philosophy III when he says to his previous self « you too are subject to the authority of science and to the philosophical spirit of ‘hierarchy ».
This objection has regularly been addressed to Laruelle by his critiques at each stage or phase of his evolution and has consistently been rejected by him.
However, Laruelle himself has repeatedly addressed to himself the same sort of objection, criticising at a later date the presuppositions of the previous phase. The fact that these are cases of self-retorsion can not prevent us from concluding that here Laruelle is retrospectively validating the retorsions of at least some of his critics.
1) Retorsion is not to be excluded as inherently subject to the principle of sufficiency. Its use, or non-use, cannot be a criterion of demarcation between philosophy and “non-philosophy”. It is in fact a powerful procedure of theoretical evolution, a method often employed in scientific debate.
2) Nor can the use or non-use of “polemics” or controversy, procedures that Laruelle rejects, serve as a criterion of demarcation. Polemics are omnipresent in the work of Laruelle, cf. his ongoing polemic against philosophical sufficiency. Polemical procedures, too, are integral to the pursuit of scientific progress.
3) There is no inherently philosophical operation. In particular, retorsion, controversy, and polemics are not always and everywhere “philosophical operations”. To affirm it as a universal rule would be to give primacy to semantics over pragmatics.
4) The demarcation between science and philosophy can only be pragmatic. Consequently, it cannot be principial, nor saturating. It can only be case by case, prudential and pragmatic.
4) The evolution of Laruelle’s thought, if we are attentive to his explicit or implicit self-criticisms, implies that much of his old exclusions, rejections, polemics and demarcations cannot be maintained. His followers tend to ignore this implication.
4) Non-standard philosophy and « forced » philosophy, Laruelle’s replacement disciplines for philosophy and non-philosophy, proceed by pluralisation, extension and enrichment – not by reduction, exclusion, and prohibition.
5) The prohibition of the procedure of “retorsion” is therefore null and void. It is contradicted both by Laruelle’s own practice and by the constitutive framework of his later philosophy.
6) The rejection of philosophical sufficiency has not only intellectual but also affective roots: horror at the idea of setting oneself up as the Grand Censor of arguments.
7) The « force (of) thought », or thought-power, is expressed in work and not in its reduction or avoidance implemented by means of universal principles and lazy prohibitions. Noetic labour-saving devices.
8) The refusal in principal of arguments by retorsion is the mark of a thought without the force proper to thought, of noetic fatigue, of the decline of thought-power into sufficiency.
9) My final conclusion is therefore that the field of dialogue in Philosophy V is freer, richer, wider, and more open than its origins in non-philosophy allowed.