françois laruelle’s non-philosophy


Finally, someone who gets it: the decisional structure of philosophy can only be grasped non-philosophically, so in this sense, non-philosophy is a science of philosophy!


Thus, Laruelle’s importance can be encapsulated in a single claim: the claim to have discovered a new way of thinking. By ‘new’, of course, Laruelle means ‘philosophically unprecedented’. But what Laruelle means by ‘philosophically unprecedented’ is notwhat philosophical revolutionaries like Descartes, Kant, Hegel or Husserl meant by it. Laruelle prefers heresy to revolution. Where philosophical revolution involves a reformation of philosophy for the ultimate benefit of philosophy itself — and a philosophical stake in what philosophy should be doing — heresy involves a use of philosophy in the absence of any philosophically vested interest in providing a normative definition of philosophy. This is not to say that Laruelle’s heretical use of philosophy is anchored in a refusal to define philosophy; were that the case, there would be nothing to distinguish it from cynical Rortian pragmatism. On the contrary, what makes the Laruellean heresy interesting is the way it provides a philosophically disinterested — which is to say non-normative — definition of the essence of philosophy.


—Ray Brassier, “Axiomatic heresy: The non-philosophy of Francois Laruelle,” 121 Radical Philosophy, (September/October 2003).



“A Summary of Non-Philosophy”

By François Laruelle



The Two Problems of Non-Philosophy


1.1.1. Non-philosophy is a discipline born from reflection upon two problems whose solutions finally coincided: on the one hand, that of the One’s ontological status within philosophy, which associates it, whether explicitly or not, to Being and to the Other whilst forbidding it any measure of radical autonomy; on the other, that of philosophy’s theoretical status, insofar as philosophy is practise, affect, existence, but lacking in a rigorous knowledge of itself, a field of objective phenomena not yet subject to theoretical overview.



1.2.1. Concerning the first point, there follows an observation and a proposal. First the observation: the One is an object at the margins of philosophy, an object of that transcendence which is stated in terms of the epekeina rather than in terms of the meta. Accordingly, it is as much Other as One, as divisible as it is indivisible; an object of desire rather than of ‘science’. It occurs to the thinking that is associated or convertible with Being, without being thought in its essence and origin (‘How does the One necessarily occur to man-the-philosopher?’). Philosophy establishes itself within Being and within a certain ‘forgetting of the One’ which it ceaselessly uses in favour of Being and which it supposes as given without further ado.


1.2.2. Now the proposal: to finally think the One ‘itself’, as independent of Being and the Other, as un-convertible with them, as non-determinable by thought and language (‘foreclosed’ to thought); to think according to the One rather than trying to think the One. But to think this non-relation to thought using the traditional means of thought; this displacement vis à vis philosophy with the help of philosophy; to think by means of philosophy that which is no longer commensurate with the compass of philosophy, that which escapes its authority and its sufficiency. These are the terms of the new problem.


1.3.1. Concerning the second point, there follows an observation and a proposal. First the observation: philosophy is regulated in accordance with a principle higher than that of Reason: the Principle of sufficient philosophy. The latter expresses philosophy’s absolute autonomy, its essence as self-positing/donating/
deciding/grounding, etc. It guarantees philosophy’s command of the regional disciplines and sciences. Ultimately, it articulates the idealist pretension of philosophy as that which is able to at least co-determine that Real which is most radical. The counterpoise for this pretension, the price of this sufficiency, is the impossibility for philosophy to constitute a rigorous, non-circular thinking of itself, one which would not beg the question, that is to say, a theory. Philosophy is self-reflection, self-consciousness; it thinks, or in the best of cases, feels that it thinks when it thinks; this is its cogito. Philosophy never goes beyond a widened cogito, an immanence limited to self-reflection or to self-affection. It is a practice of thought, or a feeling and an affect. Philosophy thereby manifests through this nothing more than its own existence and does not demonstrate that it is the Real to which it lays claim, nor that it knows itself as this pretension. Implicit in its existence is a transcendental hallucination of the Real, and in philosophical ‘self-knowledge’, a transcendental illusion.


1.3.2. Now the proposal: how to go about elaborating, with the help of philosophy and science but independently of the authority of the Principle of sufficient philosophy, a rigorous theoretical knowledge, but one that would prove adequate or attuned to philosophical existence, to the philosophical manner of thinking? These are the terms of the new problem.



The Identity of the Problem of Non-Philosophy or the Solution


2.1.1. The principle of the solution: this is the same thing as positing the One as the Real that is radically autonomous vis à vis philosophy, but a Real thought according to a new use of the latter’s now reformed means; the same thing as making of it the real condition or cause for a theoretical knowledge of philosophy. The solution constitutes a new problem: how, using the ordinary means of thought, to conceive of the One as no longer philosophizable or convertible with Being and, at the same time, as capable of determining an adequate theory of philosophy?


2.1.2. Non-philosophy typically operates in the following way: everything is processed through a duality (of problems) which does not constitute a Two or a pair, and through an identity (of problems, and hence of solution) which does not constitute a Unity or synthesis. This way is known as that of the ‘Unilateral duality’ which is just as much an ‘Identity’.


2.1.3. The resolution of the problem requires two transformations which form an identity of transformation. First, that of the philosophical One-Other into a radically autonomous One-in-One, a transformation of the One as object of philosophy into vision-in-One or into a phenomenality capable of determining knowledge.


2.1.4. Second, a transformation of that self-referential usage of philosophical language which regulates the statements of philosophy, into a new usage (one that is real and transcendental, of identity and of unilateral duality) furnishing those statements with a double and identical aspect: axiomatic and theorematic. The statements of the One and of its causality as vision-in-One rather than as object or instance of philosophy, are formed on the basis of the gradual introduction of terms and problems of philosophical extraction, but terms and problems which now receive a usage other than philosophical, a usage possessing a double aspect: axiomatic on one hand, theorematic and thus transcendental on the other, or relating to the Real and to its effects on philosophical existence.


2.1.5. The One is not an object/entity ‘in itself’ opposed to a language ‘in-itself’ and thereby forming a philosophical or dialectical pairing of opposites. The vision-in-One as matrix of thought is a ‘speaking/thinking — according to — the One’. Nor is it a relation of synthesis between the One (the Real) and language. It is a non-relation, a ‘unilateral duality’.


2.1.6. All the statements of non-philosophy appear as axiomatic insofar as they constitute the Identity (in-the-last-instance) of the unilateral duality; and as transcendental theorems insofar as each constitutes the unilateral duality that accompanies identity. The theorems may serve as axioms on condition of determining-in-the-last-instance other theorems; the axioms may serve as theorems on condition of being determined-in-the-last-instance by other axioms. Axioms and theorems do not constitute, as in science, two distinct classes of expressions, nor, as in philosophy, a reciprocal duality, that of propositions whose donation and demonstration are, certain operations aside, ultimately convertible.


 From the One to the Vision-in-One


3.1.1. Immanence. The One is immanence and is not thinkable on the terrain of transcendence (ekstasis, scission, nothingness, objectivation, alterity, alienation, meta or epekeina). Corollary: the philosophies of immanence (Spinoza, Deleuze) posit immanence in a transcendent fashion. Even Henry posits in a quasi-transcendent fashion the unekstatic immanence he objectifies.


3.1.2. Radical immanence or immanence (to) itself, the One-in-One. The One is immanence (to) itself without constituting a point, a plane, without withdrawing or folding back upon itself. It is One-in-One, that which can only be found in the One, not with Being or the Other. It is a radical rather than an absolute immanence. The ‘more’ immanence is radical, the ‘more’ it is universal or gives-in-immanence philosophy itself (the World, etc.).


3.1.3. Identity, the Real and the Ego. The other possible first names for the One are Identity, the Real or the Ego. The One is Identity ‘in the flesh’; that which is no longer attribute or even subject. It is the Ego rather than the subject, the latter being determined-in-the-last-instance by the Ego. The One is the radical Real which ‘is’ not, not because it could have ‘been’, but because it is ‘without-Being’; the One or the Real does not ‘exist’ but (is) in-One.


3.1.4. Non-intuitive phenomenality. The One is vision-in-One. The latter manifests the One alone and manifests it according to the mode of the One. Thus, it is not a mode of perception, its phenomenal-being falls neither within the purview of perception nor that of the phenomenological phenomenon. It is without intuitivity in general, neither an objective nor an intellectual intuition; and without thought or concept, it does not think but it ‘gives’ … without-givenness. Its radical non-intuitivity allows philosophical terms to be used according to a mode of axiomatic abstraction, but one which is transcendental.


3.1.5. The given-without-givenness. The vision-in-One is the being-given which is without-givenness (without a hybrid of the given and of givenness, without a ‘backstage’ or a ‘background’ givenness, without a self-giving). It does not give, it is the given, but it is able to give a givenness according to the mode of its being-given which is neither cognition nor representation: — this is its universality.


3.1.6. Non-consistency. Granted that the One is not beyond (epekeina) essence or Being but only in-One, it is without ontological, linguistic, or worldly consistency, without-being or without-essence, without-language and without-thought, even if it is said to be thus with the help of Being, of language, of thought, etc. This non-consistency implies the One’s indifference or tolerance toward any material or particular doctrinal position whatsoever, whose use it is able to determine so long as this material possesses the ultimate form of philosophy. It does not mean that the One is in-itself isolated through transcendence and absolutely without relation to language etc., but that it is foreclosed to all ‘reciprocal’ causality of language or of thought, of philosophy. Nevertheless, even if it does not need these, it is able to manifest them or bring them forth according to its own particular modality (if they present themselves). With philosophy given as a condition, the non-consistency or indifference of the Real becomes a transcendental indifference, but the latter adds nothing to the former.


3.1.7. Non-sufficiency. Since the One is nothing but the being-given-without-givenness (of) the One, it in no way produces philosophy or the World (procession, emanation, ontologico-ekstatic manifestation, creation ex nihilo, onto-theo-logical perfection) — there is no real genesis of philosophy. This is the non-sufficiency of the One as necessary but nonsufficient condition. The Real is a ‘negative’ condition or condition sine qua non for …, precisely because it is not itself nothingness or negation. A givenness of philosophy is thus additionally necessary if the vision-in-One is to give philosophy according to its own mode of being-given.


 Philosophy’s Effectuation of the Vision-in-One


4.1.1. The existence of philosophy or the affect of the World, and its real contingency. The vision-in-One gives philosophy if a philosophy presents itself. But philosophy gives itself according to the mode of its own self-positing/givenness/reflection/naming, or according to that of a widened self-consciousness or universal cogito. It is, at best, existence and gives itself with the feeling or affect of its existence (I know, I feel that I philosophize), whilst taking the latter to be the Real as such and not merely its own reality. And existence cannot engender knowledge of existence, one that would not be viciously circular. Philosophy’s existence constitutes an automatism of repetition believing itself to be the Real in virtue of a well-founded hallucination, albeit one which only the vision-in-One can reveal.


4.1.2. The effectuation of the vision-in-One by the givenness of philosophy. In virtue of its non-sufficiency, the vision-in-One requires that philosophy (which provides a usage of language and of thought) be given in order to be effectuated. The effectuation of the vision-in-One does not cancel its state as negative condition or render it ‘sufficient’, it is thus neither the actualization of a virtual nor the realization of a possible. It is a sign and witness of philosophy’s relative autonomy (one that is not absolute or in-itself) once the latter is given according to the mode of being-given-in-One. It is the taking into account not of philosophy in general, or as supposedly in-itself, but of philosophy’s autonomy, now released from the grip of its hallucinatory absolute form and indexing its specific reality and structural consistency as ‘philosophical Decision’.


4.1.3. Of non-philosophy as unilateral duality. Non-philosophy is not a unitary system but a theoretical apparatus endowed with a twofold means of access or a twofold key, albeit radically heterogeneous ones since one of these keys is Identity. This is the ‘unilateral duality’. Because of its radical immanence, which refuses all positing or consistency for itself, the vision-in-One is never present or positive, given within representation or transcendence, and manipulable in the manner of a ‘key’. This duality is not one which has two sides: the Real does not constitute a side, only non-philosophy or philosophy’s relative autonomy does so. It is no longer a bifacial or bilateral apparatus like the philosophical one, but one that is unifacial or unilateral. A duality which is an identity but an identity which is not a synthesis: this is the very structure of Determination-in-the-last-instance. Non-philosophy thinks without constituting a system, without being unitary. For example, the subject in accordance with which it is produced (‘the Stranger’) is not something facing me, it is as a uniface and is for this reason a stranger to the World, a stranger to the law

of bilaterality which is proper to philosophy and to the World, but not a stranger to the Real.


4.1.4. Contingency and necessity of the non-philosophical effectuation. On account of the philosophical origin of the material from which its axioms and theorems are drawn, and thus as instance of thought in general, non-philosophy is, from the viewpoint of the One, globally contingent relative to the Real which remains foreclosed to it. But as thought determined by the Real, it acquires the real necessity of the vision-in-One which is also the transcendental necessity of that real contingency. The One does not legitimate philosophy as it is or as it gives itself, but only insofar as it becomes transformed in its ‘being-given’. From the viewpoint of philosophy, non-philosophy is necessary but partly tautological. To think according-to-the One (to think philosophy according to this mode) is, on account of this aspect, a philosophical objective, one utilizing philosophical means.


4.1.5. The being-foreclosed of the real One. Non-consistency implies or presupposes, these are here equivalent, the being-foreclosed of the Real to thought, whether it be philosophical or non-philosophical; — a thought which, nevertheless, the Real can give according to its mode of being-in-One. Thus, thought does not affect it, the Real does not receive it but gives it and does nothing but give it. The being-given-in-One is without a prior reception. This is the radical autonomy, the primacy of phenomenality over phenomenology, of the phenomenon over the empirico-philosophical model of donation-reception, of passivity, etc. The being-foreclosed of the One is not cancelled if there is now an explicit effectuation of the vision-in-One by philosophy, it is maintained through this effectuation. This being-foreclosed suspends philosophy’s causality vis à vis the Real, but not all of philosophy’s causality relative to thought as such, for which latter philosophy represents a simple effectuating ‘occasion’. In any case, this being-foreclosed does not prevent the One from giving (- receiving) thought, language, and, more generally, the World.


4.1.6. Philosophy’s relative autonomy. Philosophy gives itself as absolute autonomy. The latter will reveal itself as constituting the same real hallucination and ‘transcendental’ illusion concerning the One as the philosophical sufficiency or pretension vis à vis the Real. It too is in effect also given — according to — the One as a merely relative autonomy. It preserves the autonomy of its reality as occasion and hence as material for non-philosophy. This autonomy is relative inasmuch as it is limited with regard to philosophy’s spontaneous belief, and relative also in a more positive sense insofar as it is now transcendentally legitimated by the Real which ratifies philosophy’s structural consistency, its quasi-materiality.


 The Cloning of Non-Philosophy on the Basis of Philosophy


5.1.1. Effectuation is the taking into account of philosophy’s reality, of its relative autonomy. That reality and thatautonomy imply that the One no longer gives philosophy merely as a simple ‘occasion’, but that it fulfils a new role vis à vis the latter, one which is now ‘decisive’ or which ‘intervenes’ within it in a positive manner. The real One thereby fulfils a transcendental function, while remaining the inalienable Real which it is, without changing in nature or ‘becoming’ an other ‘transcendental One’ beside the first. This transcendental cloning on the basis of a philosophical material is possible without contradicting the Real’s radical autonomy: philosophy is already given in-One and consequently the Real does not enter into contradiction with itself by playing a transcendental role vis à vis philosophy. Non-philosophy does not proceed from the transcendental to the Real (and from the a priori to the transcendental) in the manner of philosophy, but from the Real to the transcendental (and from the latter to the a priori).


5.1.2. The clone is that which is said of non-philosophy, not of philosophy as material for the latter, and even less of the Real which, without being transformed, is rendered agent, transcendental agent, of cloning. The non-philosophical clone is in essence or according to its matrix a transcendental instance, which is to say a vision-in-One which is said of this or that material of philosophical type. It is thus the exact content of all talking/thinking – according to – the One. The transcendental is a clone because it is said of the inalienable One, but said concerning the material whose autonomy and reality are now taken into account or introduced; the clone is thus ‘transcendental’ and not real, but it remains real-in-the-last-instance or, more precisely, the clone is the concentrate of the entire structure of Determination-in-the-last-instance as such.


5.1.3. The according to or clone appears to exceed the One, just as the transcendental appears to exceed the Real. In reality it does not exceed it: it is a mode of the in-One, which does not exceed itself within philosophy by ‘becoming’ transcendental. It is rather philosophy that exceeds the in-One (duality), but it does not exceed it in exteriority (philosophical dyad) because it is already and in any case given-in-One. It only exceeds the One through its own intrinsic reality ‘within’ its immanent-being-given or being-given-in-One. Cloning is necessary if philosophy presents itself or rather if it is taken into account according to its own consistency and autonomy, and it is possible or non-contradictory from the viewpoint of the Real.


5.1.4. The clone is not the double of a given identity which is in reality already a double or doublet. It is‘on the contrary’ the real-transcendental but indivisible Identity (of) a philosophical double. The Real is not a clone of itself, it is radically simple Identity, neither divided nor even clone (of) itself. But it is thereby able to determine non-philosophy (and not philosophy as such). To clone, to determine-in-the-last-instance, to bring-forth non-philosophy; all these formulations express the same operation and express it better than ‘produce’ does.


 The Subject and World-Thought (Essence, Existence, Assistance)


6.1.1. Non-philosophy is a globally transcendental discipline, that is to say, one that is real-in-the-last-instance (making use of philosophy’s transcendental dimension in order to formulate itself). It is the determination-in-the-last-instance of a theory (of a knowledge that remains distinct from its object — a model taken from science), and identically of a pragmatics (of a usage of philosophy ‘with a view to’ the non-philosophical subject — a model taken from philosophy). It is theoretical by virtue of one of its models: science. But it is neither a philosophical and self-positing theoreticism, nor a philosophical and self-positing pragmatics. It is theoretico-pragmatic only by virtue of its aspects as non-philosophical operation, but real or practical by virtue of its cause. Thus, it is not a ‘negative’ theory-pragmatics either, but rather one requiring that the vision-in-One be effectuated by invariant scientific

and philosophical models.


6.1.2. The non-philosophical Subject distinguishes itself from the subject which is philosophical in type. It is a purely transcendental subject, distinct from the real Ego, turned toward the World to which it is a stranger and toward which it turns itself as stranger. But it is Ego-in-the-last-instance. The unilateral duality of Ego and Subject marks the end of their unitary confusion. The subject does not use philosophy as if it were already constituted, it is that use. It is not only pragmatic, making use of world-thought, but also and equally theoretical, and further, it does not ‘do’ theory, it is the theoretical. Transcendental science, which is the clone of philosophy-science, is thus the subject as such (of) non-philosophy (the ‘force (of) thought’). The subject is theoretical and pragmatic through the scientific and philosophical material according to which it varies, but it is globally transcendental as real-in-the-last-instance, or as Ego which clones the real subject transcendentally.


6.1.3. Non-philosophy is the transcendental science which constitutes the essence-of-the-last-instance of the Subject — the ‘force (of) thought’ —, one which may, additionally, be specified on the basis of the particular material indexed by ‘ego-subject-other’. Thus, the Subject is only existence through the philosophy which it integrates, the ekstatic nature of the latter representing its aspect as ‘existence’. Accordingly, the complete unilateral duality of the Subject cannot be said to ‘exist’ in general but appertains instead to another structure of thought: it is assistance [‘adsistence’], according to a theoretical and pragmatic mode, of and for world-thought.


6.1.4. Non-philosophy demands the identification of the philosophical-fundamental and the regional (art, science, ethics, technology, etc.) but only in-the-last-instance, not through their immediate confusion or through the collapsing of one onto the other in conformity with the law of their philosophical association or within their ‘mixture’. It postulates the identification-in-the-last-instance, through cloning, of philosophy and of the world in a ‘world-thought’. The hypothesis of world-thought is one that is amenable to legitimation through philosophical reasons (the ‘world’ as philosophical concept, philosophy as cosmo-logical, cosmopolitical, onto-cosmo-logical, etc.) and in accordance with the authority of philosophy alone, but this concept partakes of the real contingency of the World in general. Yet it is also amenable to a more profound legitimation through non-philosophy insofar as the latter posits it in a theorem as identity of a clone. It then possesses the ‘given’ status of an axiom, along with the transcendental status or status as given-in-the-last-instance of a theorem ‘for’ philosophy.


6.1.5. What does this non-philosophical assistance mean? It cannot ‘transform’ (produce, engender, create, etc.) the objects of philosophy or the entities of the world. But it can transform (cause to occur according to their being-determined-by-the-One-in-the-last-instance, or according to their relative autonomy, or cause to be brought-forth through the vision-in-One as cloning) philosophy as a Whole which is a self-presenting hybrid of identity and difference. It does not intervene ‘within’ the specificity of experience, in the manner in which philosophy often and mistakenly claims to, nor does it even provide that specificity with meaning. It is not, generally speaking, an operation or activity to which the subject would remain external. The Subject is assistance in its very essence (essence which is without-essence in-the-last-instance). If assistance is neither interpretation nor practical intervention, it is the bringing-forth, one that is practical only in-the-last-instance, of world-thought, the being-brought-forth or being-given which transforms the latter’s type of autonomy and liberates it, and thereby liberates the Subject (as transcendental identity (of) world-thought), from its entrapment by the hallucinatory belief in its own sufficiency. This transcendental identity, that which philosophy [la philosophie] as such constitutes, remains incommensurable with ‘philosophy’ [‘laphilosophie’] in the philosophical sense.


—from Pli 8 (1999), 138-148. Translated by Ray Brassier








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