François Larulle: Future Struggle, Gnosis, and the last-Humaneity

Ghosts

As that non-philosopher François Laruelle recently said “It is necessary to welcome a certain return of gnosis against philosophy, institutional and academic conformism (amongst other things), but we have to ask ourselves, how do we finally make room for it when it has been condemned to an eternal rebellion. Is it possible to introduce gnosis into the very foundations of thought, even if it means shaking those foundations? … If there is any future for rebellion (having a gnostic motif rather than a classically philosophical one) then it is a rediscovery of contemporary post-Marxist gnosis.” (Larulle, p. 189: Struggle And Utopia At The End Times Of Philosophy)

One of the dangers in any hyperstitional endeavor is to literalize what is figural and hyperbolic, spiritual and sacred, thereby turning what is a road to exuberance, waste, and expenditure into a campaign for political mastery and control. As I’ve begun restudying the ancient Gnostics and their heirs, the ancient dualisms both spiritual and political I’ve begun to see a pattern take shape as the ideologues of the past two centuries have battled over the political body of the world. Below is just a flight of anguish in the registry of such strangeness…

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François Laruelle: Radical Immanence and the Non-Philosopher

“In any case, non-philosophy did not invent ‘the real, or the One, or man (every philosopher can take some credit for the latter), or even the idea of a ‘radical immanence (there is Michel Henry and perhaps others as well –Maine de Biran? Marx? [Deleuze]). On the other hand, non-philosophy exists because it invented the true characteristics of the latter, because it took the requirements of radicality seriously and distinguished between the radical and the absolute.”

“Ultimately, I see non-philosophers in several different ways. I see them, inevitably, as subjects of the university, as is required by worldly life, but above all as related to three fundamental human types. They are related to the analyst and the political militant, obviously, since non-philosophy is close to psychoanalysis and Marxism –it transforms the subject by transforming instances of philosophy. But they are also related to what I would call the ‘spiritual type –which it is imperative not to confuse with ‘spiritualist. The spiritual are not spiritualists. They are the great destroyers of the forces of philosophy and the state, which band together in the name of order and conformity. The spiritual haunt the margins of philosophy, gnosticism, mysticism, and even of institutional religion and politics. The spiritual are not just abstract, quietist mystics; they are for the world. This is why a quiet discipline is not sufficient, because man is implicated in the world as the presupposed that determines it. Thus, non-philosophy is also related to gnosticism and science-fiction; it answers their fundamental question –which is not at all philosophy’s primary concern–: “Should humanity be saved? And how?” And it is also close to spiritual revolutionaries such as Müntzer and certain mystics who skirted heresy. When all is said and done, is non-philosophy anything other than the chance for an effective utopia? Let me begin in traditional terms: what is the essence, what are the possibilities of non-philosophy? From the outset, it originated from four concerns that were coupled two by two; and hence from dualities.”

– François Laruelle, from A New Presentation of Non-Philosophy

Short note on Laruelle’s Anti-Badiou

Up until Badiou, philosophy was educative and pedagogical; with him, it is re-educated by mathematics.

– Francois Laruelle,  Anti-Badiou

Just began reading Laruelle’s new book on Badiou tonight. Already he sets up an oppositional thematics with Badiou’s philosophical project seen as a re-education of philosophy that incorporates a conservative and authoritarian stance:  “mathematicism is the condition of communism, with the authoritarian Platonist model finding a new lease of life in Maoism.” 1 As Laurelle states it, “Is this not a new, Maoist, avatar of universal Aufhebung, a manner of conserving philosophy through its re-education by means of dismemberment, redistribution and subtraction?”

Against such authoritarian re-education Non-philosophy, according to Laruelle, “seeks a way of depotentializing philosophy and making another use of it, but via other, more positive and less authoritarian procedures— formerly on the “non-Euclidean” model, and at present through a scientific (physical) experimentation and performation of philosophy— not at all through a scholarly and “cultural” breaking-in.”

He likens Badiou’s approach as a great Maoist bootcamp for re-education, one in which the new cadre of philosophers will under the rule of mathematics, logic, and a stringent pedagogical discipline enforce a specific, correct ‘image of thought’. Laurelle tells us that Badiou contents himself once more with a “revolutionary philosophy,” a “cultural” revolution “within the limits of philosophy, rather than a scientific and non-philosophical revolution in philosophy”. There will be purges as well, a new purification of philosophy, Laruelle tells us. In fact “the entire system, in its “metaphysical” depths, in its ultimate axioms, can be read as a manifesto of terror or of “cultural revolution” in philosophy.”

Ultimately with or without mathematics, in Badiou it is not a question simply of a “philosophy of force but of a political practice of philosophy (Lenin) conjugated with the mathematical void, a practice of the force of the void in all domains of thought, in the name of philosophy”. Laruelle asks the question: “How can we oppose Badiou without entering into a mere “relation of forces,” setting against him a force of the same nature as his own?”

Laruelle invites us to join in this struggle or agon against the authoritarian proclivities of such a project asking us if “to protect philosophy against itself, must we purify it through the entirely specular mediation of mathematics, making of it a superior politico-cultural doxa that exalts mathematics as force of the void (like a kind of philosophical brainwashing)? Or should we rather aim for a scientific-type knowledge of philosophy, a knowledge that would no doubt be contingent, but which, this time, would truly escape such doxa?” In the end he describes what must be done:

“The introduction of Maoism into philosophy cannot be a conjunctural accident, even if it is also a matter of a certain conjuncture; this would be to underestimate Badiou as a philosopher. No, it is an essential possibility of philosophy, one that philosophy makes available alongside others; a possibility first actualized by Plato, but one that is profoundly inscribed in the very axioms of philosophical decision, albeit more or less inert or apparently inactive at any given time. We require further details as to the new version of non-philosophy, and as to the analytic means that will allow us to detect in Badiou the indestructible residue of philosophy, and its conservation-reeducation by Cantor and Mao under the sign of Plato.” (ibid)

Looks like this will enact one of Laruelle’s gnosis-fictions: a dualysis masquerade between himself and Badiou, a knowing by way of a dislodgement, an escape from the prison house of Platonism under the sign of Badiou-Mao. But this is no ordinary gnosis, this is the inversion of Gnosticism without god, and venture into the democracy of thought, that is at once an attack upon the academic aristocracy, and a realignment with the scientific movement of thinking and knowing at the conjuncture of the real. And, yet, as we will learn it is not to gnosis that this strange non-philosophy turns, but to philo-fiction where it “becomes possible to transform philosophy, Parmenides’ formula, into a mere symptom of the Real, and then into the material of philo-fiction, and moreover into a model of philo-fiction”. This new form of philosophy must “act upon philosophy, rather than to contemplate it one more time— this is our imperative, and quantum theory is of the order of the means of man as Last Instance; it is not the mirror in which philosophy admires itself again and always.”

The new philosopher “tells a philosophical tale about a positive science”— he repeats the mythological style, whereas the Greek physiologists (rather than Plato) inaugurated a scientific vision of the object “philosophy.” This is a tale that renders philosophy of sciences themselves inventive. He continues, saying,

The Real of immanence, by virtue of the particle that it configures, is the non-dialectical solution to contradiction and to antinomies. It impossibilizes logic and theory without destroying them, instead simplifying them into their materiality, reducing them to the state of fiction— but a logic-fiction or philo-fiction. It gives to deployed theory, to all of fictional materiality, its force of “formalism,” for which reality, the empirical, and ideality are all of fictional materiality, but without constitutive effect upon it. (Kindle Locations 3247-3251).

He envisions a fusion of quatum theory and philosopy, a science ficitionalization of non-philosophy in which the new philosopher must treat metaphor generically, and not leave it either to internal relations or external relations; the correlation, or rather “unilation, of unilateral complementarity is neither substantial nor atomic”. Out of this new creed is born a new ethics, it “will be a matter of passing from absolute poverty (the philosophical loss of philosophy) to radical poverty as non-philosophical loss of philosophy”.

 

1. Laruelle, Francois (2013-01-03). Anti-Badiou: The Introduction of Maoism into Philosophy (Kindle Locations 87-88). Bloomsbury Academic. (all quotes from the preface)

Anthony Paul Smith: On Laruelle and Non-Theology

“The invention of an afterlife would not matter so much were it not purchased at so high a price: disregard of the real, hence willful neglect of the only world there is. While religion is often at variance with immanence, with man’s inherent nature, atheism is in harmony with the earth — life’s other name.”

– Michel Onfray, Atheist Manifesto

Even if I am diametrically opposed to the theological and non-theological trend within nonphilosophy, I thought it worth exploring, and allowing for a review of Anthony Paul Smith’s essay from After the Postsecular and the Postmodern: New Essays in  Continental Philosophy of Religion. That I am an atheist goes without statement, but I have never allowed it to color my judgments toward other forms of philosophical speculation. To close one’s thinking off  from every aspect of philosophical speculation contrary to one’s belief system is to tyrannize thought itself. One must be open even to the oppositional trends in philosophical speculation. Most of all one’s integrity requires an honest appraisal of that thought, not its distortion.

Philosophers of late seem to be moving into nonphilosophical territory seeking out both orthodox and heretical philosophies, opening dialogues between opposing worlds to experiential practices rather than the abstract worlds of thought. It looks like Laruelle is presenting a modified form of some of those ancient practices within a secularized form that is offers religious and materialist scholars a new path forward. In a few posts now I’ve seen Laruelle as a key figure within many of those who are within or on the fringe of what was once termed Speculative realism. Whether this term and its key figures is worthy of its appellation is not my concern. What is of concern is this return to the hermetic and the neo-platonic One with its attendant resurgence of all those heretical counter-currents within the history of Christianity.

Much of this same turn to religion can as well be used by neo-materialists projects as part of a speculation on dissidence, political struggle, and the shaping of those lost ideas and practices that emerged in the utopian communal worlds of those very heretical historical groups, and of their very material experiential practices (theory in action) that have been at odds with all orthodoxies everywhere. For this reason I do think Laruelle’s thought is of value and might be turned to other more materialist confrontation with the Real-that-has-been-excluded from our very material world. Now for Anthony Paul Smith’s essay What can be done with Religion?

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Meillassoux, Brassier, Laruelle and Gnosticism?

In a previous post on Quentin Meillassoux’s Berlin Lecture David Milliern whose blog milliern is well worth spending some time on brought up a some interesting thoughts which I quote at the bottom of this post. David tells us that his concerns about Meillassoux centered on his use of “kenotype”:

 I have this concern ever since reading Harman’s “Philosophy in the Making,” that Meillassoux is nonchalantly dancing along a precipice with his materialism that seems to threaten collapsing to idealism at any moment.  Much of my concern was assuaged, after reading Bergson’s “Matter and Memory” and Meillassoux’s article on that book, “Subtraction and Contraction,” pushing the notion (for lack of a better term) “givenness” into the same court as Bergson’s notion of image.  My concerns arose again in the Berlin lecture, because I can’t pin down why a “kenotype” is different from a concept.

I’ll begin my post with a brief introduction regarding “kenotype” itself, what place does it have in philosophical speculation and specifically in regards to Meillassoux’s use of that term in his own thought.

“Kenotype” (from ancient Greek, kainow, “new”) differs from archetype in that it offers a figurative, or generalized schematic eidos, of a historically new phenomenon, such as Meillassoux’s God of the Divine Inexistence:

A kenotype may be defined as a cognitive, creative structure, reflecting a new crystallization of some broadly human experience, occuring in concrete historical circumstances, but not reducible to them, and appearing as the first embodiment of a potential or future development. If in the case of the Platonic archetypes, the general precedes the concrete, as a pre-established form precedes materialization, and if in a type the two coexist, then in the case of a kenotype, the general is a final perspective of the concrete, which arises from history only to outgrow it, touching the borders of eternity. So that everything that can come into being has it metaimage in the future, since it prophesies or gives warning about something. This storehouse of metaimages is far richer than the strongbox of first images, where the ancient unconscious is contained (a sort of Pandora’s box). The openness of history is given to humankind as a birthplace for supra-historical content, where the permanent can obtain its “surplus value” and where its image can not only be preserved, but grow in time.1

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Laruelle: Prophet or Charlatan? – Or, Philosophy as Neo-Baroque

“The baroque style always arises at the time of decay of a great art, when the demands of art in classical expression have become too great. It is a natural phenomenon which will be observed with melancholy—for it is a forerunner of the night—but at the same time with admiration for its peculiar compensatory arts of expression and narration.”

– Fredrich Nietzsche

In the last paragraph of D&G’s What is Philosophy? we discover something strange, something that in the previous two hundred or so pages has never entered thought, the term nonphilosophy:

“The plane of philosophy is prephilosophical insofar as we consider it in itself independently of the concepts that come to occupy it, but nonphilosophy is found where the plane confronts chaos” (218).1

Just after this statement we find Deleuze quoting Laruelle:

“Philosophy needs nonphilosophy that comprehends it; it needs a nonphilosophical comprehension just as art needs nonart and science needs nonscience” (218).

Why this sudden intrusion of non-philosophy just here at the moment of finalization of a movement whose trajectory has taken us through the events of philosophy itself. At the beginning we heard those primal keys ring out:

“The greatness of philosophy is measured by the nature of the events to which its concepts summon us or that it enables us to release in concepts.  So the unique, exclusive bond between concepts and philosophy as a creative discipline must be tested in its finest details. The concept belongs to philosophy and only to philosophy” (34).

So what is it that intrigues Deleuze about nonphilosophy? Surprisingly it comes here at the end again when we see D&G qualifying this nonphilosophical subterranean submersion remark “… it seems that there is extracted from chaos the shadow of the “people to come” in the form that art, but also philosophy and science, summon forth; mass-people, world-people, brain-people, chaos-people – nonthinking thought that lodges in the three, like Klee’s nonconceptual concept or Kandinsky’s internal silence” (218).

So we listen to this strange and prophetic tone about nonphilosophy, its facing toward chaos, its submersion in this nonceptual sea where a praxis is performed, one that is proleptic and as Laruelle will tell us in a later work it is part of a “lost paradigm” coming to us from the future. That what is extracted from the chaos of the future is “another image of man; a being that does not live, which stopped living on earth or in the heavens, the nomad of the future” (4).2

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Ray Brassier on Laruelle: Objects Thinking; or The Transcendental Cut

“Metaphysics conceived of the autonomy of the object in terms of the model of substance. But successive critiques of the hypostatization of substance from Kant to Heidegger have undermined the plausibility of metaphysical (substance based) realism, thereby securing the triumph of correlationism. Laruelle’s work challenges this correlationist consensus by proposing a version of transcendental realism wherein the object is no longer conceived of as a substance but rather as a discontinuous cut in the fabric of ontological synthesis. It is no longer thought that determines the object, whether through representation or intuition, but rather the object, that seizes thought and forces it to think it, or better, according to it. As we have seen, this objective determination takes the form of a unilateral duality whereby the object thinks through the subject.”

– Ray Brassier, Nihil Unbound: Enlightenment And Extinction

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Also for those interested in François Laruelle’s project of non-philosophy Anthony Paul Smith will be talking in Dublin Wednesday 9 January 2013:

Faux amis?: François Laruelle and the Speculative Turn

Interest in François Laruelle’s project of non-philosophy continues to grow, in part because the seeming closeness of his project to that of speculative realism. In this talk Anthony Paul Smith aims to introduce the basic contours of Laruelle’s works in relation to those of speculative realism. While Laruelle has championed a form of thought that is in many ways more virulently non-correlationist than even Meillassoux, he attends to political and ethical questions in a way that appears to weave seamlessly this non-correlationism with a revised, non-standard humanism very different than the anti-humanism present amongst the speculative realists. Exploring this may show how Laruelle’s version of philosophy of science is amenable not with a cold world, but with a vision that simply isn’t worldly.

For more information about D.U.S.T please visit http://dublindust.wordpress.com/

Lecture by François Laruelle

Lecture by François Laruelle
The Degrowth of Philosophy: Towards a Generic Ecology
Tuesday, November 20th, 7:30PM

Miguel Abreu Gallery, 36 Orchard Street, New York, NY

François Laruelle is one of the most creative and subversive French philosophers working today. He is the founder of ‘non-philosophy’ – or what he now calls ‘non-standard philosophy’ – and is the author of more than twenty books, including A Biography of the Ordinary Man, Theory of Strangers, Principles of Non-Philosophy, Introduction to Non-Marxism,Future Christ, The Concept of Non-Photography, Struggle and Utopia at the End Times of Philosophy, Anti-Badiou and Non-Standard Philosophy.

One of Laruelle’s fundamental claims is that all forms of philosophy (from ancient philosophy to analytic philosophy to deconstruction and so on) are structured around a prior decision, but that all forms of philosophy remain constitutively blind to this decision. The ‘decision’ that Laruelle is concerned with here is the dialectical splitting of the world in order to grasp the world philosophically. Laruelle believes that the decisional structure of philosophy can only be grasped non-philosophically. In this sense, non-standard philosophy is a science of philosophy.

Seating for this event is limited, and available on a first-come, first-served basis.
Doors open at 7PM.
For more information please contact Sequence Press, located within:
Miguel Abreu Gallery 36 Orchard Street (between Canal & Hester), New York, NY 10002
Tel 212.995.1774 • post@sequencepress.com