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.


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