DIAGRAMMING PHILOSOPHIES (2): OOP and the problem of emergence

In the previous post we examined the elements and (non-)relations posited by Graham Harman’s OOP. In this post we shall see the movements, authorised and prohibited, that characterise this version of Speculative Realism.

OOP Diagram 2-1

Withdrawal is eliminative, deconstructive, abstractive, élitist – this ascent to the absolute is the defining movement of OOP.

De-withdrawal is emanative, constructive, concretive, democratic – this inverse movement of descent or return to daily life is prohibited by OOP.

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DIAGRAMMING PHILOSOPHIES (1): Graham Harman’s Disappearance Theory of Objects

It can be useful to diagramme alternative philosophies to compare their elements and their relations, and to visualise their movements.

In the case of Graham Harman’s object-oriented philosophy (OOP) we have a strongly eliminativist ontology, in which all observable, imaginable, or even thinkable objects are declared unreal, and only Harman’s intuitively posited « real » objects are real.

The ascending movement of withdrawal

The ascending movement of withdrawal

Withdrawal is eliminative, deconstructive, abstractive, élitist – this is the defining movement of OOP

De-withdrawal is emanative, constructive, concretive, democratic – this inverse movement is forbidden by OOP.

The diverse objects that we “know” are emanations of the One real object behind the appearances (Harman’s sensual realm). This sensual realm includes the “folk” realm of common sense, but also the expert realm of the sciences and the humanities. The object behind the veil of unknowing cannot be known, nor even named, as it withdraws from all relations, including the relation of nomination or reference.

The real object does not cause its emanations or sensual counterparts, as causality for OOP is unreal, an intra-sensual notion. The diverse objects and relations of the sensual realm are eliminated from the reality posited by Harman’s OOP. The repeated rhetorical gesture of “turning towards” objects cannot hide the idealism of this position. In fact, OOP turns away from all objects of experience, imagination, and knowledge and turns towards (but cannot attain) the withdrawn real.

Harman is not a materialist, as for him matter is a sensual illusion. In fact, according to OOP we must distinguish between the “folk” matter of common sense and the “expert” matter of the various sciences (the matter of quantum physics is not the same matter as that of geology). Both are unreal in Harman’s system.

The ascending movement is fivefold:

1) ontological: real objects withdraw from relations, in particular they have no relations of causality or of correspondence with sensual objects

2) epistemological: real objects are unobservable, unknown, and unimaginable. We have no epistemic relation with them

3) ethical: real objects can be attained only by an ascesis involving the renunciation of sensual and cognitive access

4) religious: orientation towards objects is a conversion experience, philosophy permits us to « turn » towards real objects without acceding to them

5) methodological: there is no method of access to the inaccessible real object, but its existence is revealed by intellectual intuition (after conversion)

In conclusion, the demarcations between philosophy and common sense, and between philosophy and science are absolute. Harman incoherently excepts art from this rupture in the name of an ad hoc theory of indirect and allusive communication.

Further, it is impossible to explain how OOP crosses the veil of unknowing, attaining to such insights as that the real is made of objects and that objects withdraw from relations. These two principles constitute knowledge of the real, something that is forbidden by the basic assumptions of OOP.

No dialogue between OOP and the unconverted (both « folk » and « experts) » is permissible nor even possible.

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TÉTRALOGOS par François Laruelle: premières réactions

Je viens de recevoir TÉTRALOGOS Un opéra de philosophies par François Laruelle.

Je trouve le livre très intéressant, mais je ne peut parler que des grandes lignes du projet spéculative. L’aspect musical est beaucoup plus dans la structure du livre que thématisé explicitement, contrairement à ce que le résumé laisse entendre. Laruelle déclare avoir toujours voulu non pas écrire une philosophie de la musique, mais

« faire de la musique avec des concepts »

Comme d’habitude dans ma lecture des œuvres de Laruelle, mes sentiments sont assez partagés. Tout est très intéressant dans ce livre, mais en même temps tout est rempli de déclarations d’intention, et d’auto-suffisance. Laruelle passe beaucoup plus de temps en annonçant ou en décrivant ce que la non-philosophie et la philosophie non-standard sait faire, et beaucoup moins de temps à mettre en pratique ce beau programme. On retrouve les excès de l’auto-clonage que Laruelle se sent obligé de pratiquer en permanence et que j’ai analysé ici.

Néanmoins, je trouve que c’est son livre le plus important, le plus clair, le plus achevé, et le plus humain.

Malgré la confirmation de mon éloignement critique du projet théorique de Laruelle, ce livre m’a apporté un sentiment de rapprochement.

Si je critique Laruelle pour sa pratique de « l’auto-clonage », c’est qu’il s’identifie trop avec ses personnages conceptuels (le non-philosophe, le philosophe non-standard) et avec ses concepts (le « quantum », la « messianité », voire « l’algèbre »). Il est toujours très étrange de lire Laruelle en train de se plaindre de l’ennui monotone et du manque d’inventivité de la philosophie dans un texte extrêmement répétitive, remplie des mêmes abstractions que ses livres précédents, toujours mal expliquées.

Je n’ai jamais rencontré François Laruelle, il n’y a pas de relation, bonne ou mauvaise, entre nous. Lorsque j’évoque un « éloignement », je parle d’un éloignement théorique, que j’ai inlassablement analysé, sur ce blog et ailleurs.

J’ai passé tant de temps à lire Laruelle et à articuler mes critiques de la non-philosophie laruelléenne parce que je perçois un fonds commun conceptuel, malgré les désaccords dans les thèses et l’application de ces concepts.

Ce rapprochement conceptuel est devenu un rapprochement humain, puisque je vois en lisant le livre une parenté dans la tentative d’inventer, chacun à sa façon, un pluralisme réaliste. Nous partageons en grande partie les mêmes critères: immanence, démocratie noétique, testabilité, réalisme, pluralisme.

J’ai plus l’impression en lisant ce nouveau livre que si Laruelle pouvait seulement se dés-identifier de ses concepts et de ses personnages conceptuels (et si moi aussi je pouvais me désidentifier des miens), tout en les maintenant, on pourrait s’entendre.

S’il pouvait se contenter de présenter sa philosophie comme une biographie conceptuelle de ses concepts et de ses personnages, sans prétention excessive, ce serait une entreprise passionnante. Cependant, sa biographie conceptuelle, malgré son intensité certaine, reste en même temps très étriquée. Je sens toujours le besoin de la supplémenter avec d’autres lectures, avec d’autres concepts et d’autres personnages conceptuels.

Note: je remercie Gilles Grelet de m’avoir aidé à clarifier mes idées initiales à propos du livre.

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Reading Laruelle’s TETRALOGOS (4): Deleuzos

Laruelle devotes a little over three pages in TETRALOGOS (bottom 157 to top 161) to his differences with Deleuze, as he sees them.

1) Deleuze does not attain the « quarter turn » from reality to the Real.

Reply: Deleuze’s idea of the concept as survey, « survol », corresponds to a quarter turn, or a rotation away from the axis of referential reality (left to the sciences).

Deleuze’s quarter turn to science fiction was already accomplished in DIFFERENCE AND REPETITION (1969), as the Foreword to that book makes clear.

2) Deleuze does not accomplish the passage to the generic

Reply: this is a verbal quibble. In WHAT IS PHILOSOPHY? Deleuze and Guattari make use of the term « generic » to refer to abstractions and stereotypes. However, the notion of the pure transcendental plane is one of generic, as opposed to naively empirical, events.

3) Deleuze does not reach the plane of radical immanence, which is both philosophical and scientific.

Reply: I have argued that there is a real problem in Deleuze and Guattari’s view of a conceptless science, assigning only functions to science and restricting the concept to philosophy alone. However, there is an even bigger problem in Laruelle’s scientism.

Further, the conclusion of WHAT IS PHILOSOPHY? goes a long way to relativise the sharp demarcation between science and philosophy that the book begins with, as does Deleuze and Guattari’s concept of radical empiricism.

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Reading Laruelle’s TETRALOGOS (3): Diagramma – generic, quantic, and the complex plane

This is my attempt to diagramme Laruelle’s text

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Reading Laruelle’s TETRALOGOS (2): Methodos – imaginary numbers and quarter turns

I am reading Laruelle’s new book « TETRALOGOS An opera of philosophies » as it was written: from within a generic matrix. We shall see to what extent he satisfies his own criterion of genericity. In my view it is, as usual, a very good try, but not generic enough.

This book is the synthesis of his non-standard philosophy, not just of its theses, but of the forces and means underlying them:

« Nous jetons dans la bataille l’ensemble de nos forces théoriques, dessinant une rapide topologie … complexe de nos moyens. Ces moyens se déploient sur un espace nullement quelconque, ni même spécialement mathématique mais générique, ontologico-existential et quantique,  espace qui contient un apport mathématique (l’algèbre du « nombre imaginaire ») mais auquel il ne s’asservit pas (c’est l’une de nos différences avec Badiou qui « collapse » le générique logico-mathématique et le philosophique) » (TETRALOGOS, 29-30).

My translation:

« We are throwing into the battle the set of our theoretical forces, sketching a rapid complex topology … of our means. These means are deployed on a space that is not at all indifferent, nor even specially mathematical, but generic, ontologico-existential and quantic, space which contains a mathematical contribution (the algebra of the « imaginary number ») but to which it is not enslaved » (this is one of our differences with Badiou, who « collapses » the logico-mathematical generic and the philosophical ».

Note: if only Laruelle could stop going on about what is wrong with Badiou and Deleuze, who he misreads violently, then his works would be far more interesting and innovative (and a lot more concise).

Within this generic, ontologico-existential and quantic space (if you listen to Laruelle, everything is generic in his philosophy) I will be reading Laruelle’s tetralogic « opera of philosophies » as space opera.

Laruelle here references the « complex topology » of his theoretical means and forces, made possible by the non-enslaved drawing on the contribution of the mathematics of imaginary numbers. Laruelle’s protocol of non-enslavement is the generic.

The imaginary number and the complex plane compose with the freeing of philosophy from its enslavement to sufficiency by means of a « quarter turn ». My own quarter turn, as my reference to space opera suggests, involves rotating Laruelle’s philosophy onto the axis of science fiction.

Laruelle claims to accomplish the science fiction (quarter) turn and to go beyond it. How? You guessed it, by being more « generic »:

« la non-philosophie s’accomplit comme science-fiction générique (SFG) ou Philo-fiction » (TETRALOGOS, 112).

Translation:

« non-philosophy accomplishes itself as generic science fiction (GSF) or Philo-fiction ».

Laruelle goes even further:

« La philosophie non-standard est la science-fiction rigoureuse de ce temps ».

Translation:

« Non-standard philosophy is the rigorous science fiction of our time ».

A little more modesty, and a little less « sufficiency », would be welcome, Laruelle is only now approaching the degree of genericity that Philip K. Dick attained decades ago. Nor does he seem to have read more modern speculative fiction, such as Neal Stephenson’s chef d’oeuvre ANATHEM.

See:

https://terenceblake.wordpress.com/2015/11/14/immanentise-plato-on-neal-stephensons-anathem/

https://terenceblake.wordpress.com/2015/12/28/anathem-plato-rorty/

The science fiction quarter turn that I will be effecting takes us to the over-sight of non-standard philosophy, it is an anti-clockwise turn. In contrast, the clockwise quarter turn followed by the religionist Anglophone disciples of Laruelle only gets them to the less generic non-philosophy.

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Reading Laruelle’s TETRALOGOS (1): Prologos – A Dream

Last night I dreamt I was sitting and talking with Laruelle in a pub, and I was lamenting that people criticised me for my negative take on his philosophy, without their seeing the positive creation underlying it.

He sympathised with me and told me that he had suffered from the same problem from critics who only saw the negative aspect of his non-philosophy, while being blind to its positivity.

He encouraged me to continue to think and to speak in my own name.

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