In honor of the recent translations of Laruelle’s work (Struggle and Utopia, Principles, Anti-Badiou), as well as a couple coming out in May (Dictionary, Philosophy and Non-Philosophy), I have decided to post my translation of an essay of Laruelle’s from the 80s on ‘politics’. The journal in which Laruelle originally published the essay is now defunct. If anyone desires the original French text, please let me know. It should also be noted that at the end of the essay there is an extensive bibliography on the subject-matter of minorities, but I am unaware whether or not this is Laruelle’s or is provided by the journal…I am under the assumption that these references are provided as further reading by the journal, insofar as they concern geopolitical/juridical discourses on minorities (no philosophy, strictly speaking, is included). The publications referenced there are in English and French.
F. Laruelle. “Qui sont les Minorités et comment les penser”. Etudes polémologiques 43 (1987): 175-89.
Who Are Minorities and How To Think Them?
Minorities represent a certain type of problem both insistent or inevitable and never resolved. For political science, one might say that it is a crux, a theoretical impasse. The same goes for political practice. What is behind this difficulty? There are several reasons. First, for a political reason, it became a problem or a question. The problem of Minorities emerged as such with the history of the great modern States with which it is coextensive and whose constitution it accompanies. Perhaps it was a less critical or less obvious problem with the grand Empires where Minorities were recognized and sometimes repressed de facto. But in the 19th century with the establishment of the unified and more or less centralized States, they have become a question as such for political theory, which is simultaneously the sign of their problematic character and the beginning of their recognition as such.
Afterwards, it was not simply a political problem, but became social. I believe that it is important for reflection and theory and completely necessary for philosophy to overcome the political limitation of the concept of “Minorities” to which it is too often restrained. The problem has developed an incredible extension with the appearance of Minorities of a totally different type than the national and political. No doubt they are born as political and historical problems, but they now undergo new experiences and require more extensive and not simply political definitions.
[F. Laruelle. Introduction aux sciences géneriques: Editions Petra, Paris, 2008]. These are notes hastily typed up. I have tried to stay close to Laruelle’s verbiage while keeping them notes. I have also interpolated as little as possible.
This work calls “generic” a type of sciences or knowledges [connaissances] sufficiently neutral and devoid of particularity in order to be added to others more determined and co-operate with them, transforming them without destroying them or denying their scientific nature. They are capable of being added to others acquired in a more “classical” way without unsettling what the latter take from their domain of object and legality, i.e. capable of transforming knowledge without philosophically destroying it.
Translator’s Note: In order to avoid any sort of confusion, it should be noted that this article was included in an anthology of essays engaging various aspects of non-philosophy in contemporary philosophers. This article immediately follows Laruelle’s own essay responding to Deleuze, but was–for reasons that will become clear after reading–published under the pseudonym Tristan Aguilar.
Badiou and Non-Philosophy: A Parallel
Aguilar, Tristan. “Badiou et non-philosophie: un parallel” in Non-philosophie des contemporains. Ed. Le Collectif non-philosophique. Paris: Kimé, 1995.
I. Everything seems to force the opposition between non-philosophy and the philosophy that takes the equation mathematics=ontology as its ontological base. This opposition can be identified on four levels:
1. The central and guiding theme: on the one hand, a philosophy of the radical Multiple (Badiou=B.); on the other hand, a non-philosophy of the radical One (Laruelle=L.). One cannot, at least at first glance, imagine thoughts more extreme or more opposed in their common research of radicality in the name of anti-contemporary radicality (the philosophies of difference: Nietzsche, Heidegger, Deleuze, Derrida).
2. The object of thought: on the one hand (B.) Being, a more-than-fundamental ontology, a veritable ontological base for philosophy, an overhaul of the concept of “being” as first: on the other (L.) a secondarization of being as an instance of a completely relative autonomy on behalf of the One as radical immanence or instance of the absolutely non-objective real; a global and resolute refusal to understand the real as Being and consequently a refusal to understand the essence of thought, if not thought itself, as ontology, be it “Presence” or not.
The following is an early attempt at a succinct elaboration of what could be considered the early roots of non-philosophy. Almost epigrammatic in its economy, this account at least has the benefit of formulating its approach in the form of rules which are not simply prescriptive but productive and indicative of a transformation of the method itself (despite or even due to its use of “destruction” and “reduction”). For a very detailed and informative account of the relation of the quid juris and quid facti, check out the essay “The Foundations of Value” by Kelley L. Ross.
Laruelle, Francois. “La Transvaluation de la methode transcendentale.” Bulletin de la societe francaise de philosophie 73 (1979): 77-78.
A transvaluation of the transcendental method is proposed to relieve the latter of its epistemological, logical, and moral hypotheses and to overcome the classical objections to its encounter (of defect and sterility). It thinks the method according to its essence (or the immanent rules of its becoming-transcendental) and no longer according to its objects. It attempts to deliver the eidos of the transcendental from its empiricist and formalist limitations by assigning it “reality” as instance.
II. Systematic of the Rules of the Transcendental Method or Its Transvaluation
1. First rule: Constitute a “faktum” under already transcendental conditions; destroy the question quid facti? on the side of the question (it is a continual process of reduction rather than a description) and on the side of the fact (it is a transcendental and synthetic residue rather than a “fact”); in turn, treat the residual faktum as capable of being reduced (dissociate ideality and the a priori).
2. Second rule: Proceed to the continuous given in two breaks (ontic or realizing, ontological or idealizing); define the “transcendental reduction” as “unilateral” break and synthesis, and its objects as “residual transcendental objects” (destruction of the “analytic”).
3. Third rule: Define a break or supplementary reduction which extracts a supreme synthetic Principle or Essence responsible for unifying the diversity of “residual objects”; assign this factor a non-logical and non-ideal type of reality according to which the technique of breaks receives a “transcendental” value.
4. Fourth rule: Define a “transcendental genesis,” i.e. the particular modes of synthesis of residual objects or reality and ideality under the conditions of the immanence of Essence (destruction of the question quid juris?).
Over at Stellar Cartographies there is a new post (called: Speculative realism, stamp collecting, and the question of Science) that goes into great detail about Gabriel Catren’s critique of Meillassoux on the basis of theoretical physics and quantum mechanics (lovingly dubbed by the former as “speculative physics”). The majority of the post (in reality almost already essay-length) focuses on Catren’s extensive essay that appeared in Collapse vol. 5 just recently. There are also at least 5 or 6 essays by Catren that can be found online, some more mathematical than others, but all on theoretical physics and the question of objectivity. I even have the chance and honor to translate one of Gabriel Catren’s essays for the upcoming anthology The Speculative Turn, which will feature many of the big names in the “field” of speculative realism (or transcendental realism, as Laruelle has dubbed his approach, thus reviving an older nomination that could, for example, at one time have labeled Spinoza’s approach…although he was usually considered just a dogmatist by Fichte et al.). Definitely go check this out if you have an interest in the current debates about speculative realism.
For Catren’s online essays, check out “On Classical and Quantum Objectivity” and “Can Classical Descriptions of Reality Be Considered Complete?” and “Geometric Foundations of Classical Yangs-Mill Theory” and “Notes on Dilaton Quantum Cosmology” with Claudio Simeone, and “Time asymmetries in quantum cosmology and the searching for boundary conditions to the Wheeler-DeWitt equation” with Mario Castagnino and Rafael Ferraro, and finally “Quantization of the Taub cosmological model with extrinsic time” with Rafael Ferraro.
Other name for unilaterality, form of suspension or invalidation which, no longer arising from Being but from the One, is a mode of the One’s being-foreclosed, either real and not effectuated (“uni-laterality”), or transcendental and effectuated by the occasion of philosophical “nothingness” (“unilaterality”). It testifies to the primacy of (real) foreclosure over the (philosophical) negation.
- From Plato to Fichte, negation arises from the logico-real order of an anti-thesis. Several philosophers have supposed the contingency of negation thus understood, from the fact of the reapplicability of the logical order to itself or double negation (Hegel). For philosophy, with several close exceptions (Bergson), the category of negation has its reason in non-Being or Nothingness (Heidegger, Sartre), whether matched with the negative dialectic or not. Contemporary philosophy replaces negation through more positive experiences of alterity which mitigate it (difference, multiplicity, dissemination, singularities, finitude, etc.) without for all that the unitary illusion being broken, these substitutions taking place in the linguistic element alone and remaining conditioned by the horizon, if not of Being, at least of the structure of the philosophical Decision. Continue reading
Transcendental (Pure Transcendental Identity)
First instance after the Real or the One constitutive of the subject as force (of) thought. It is the clone of the transcendental Unity proper to the philosophical Decision and produced by the vision-in-One on the basis of this symptomatic indication. Transcendental Identity is no longer the transcendental One of philosophy associated with a division; it is an undivided identity which finds nothing in it but its occasion.
- The transcendental obviously has a long philosophical history marked by Aristotle, certain scholastics, Kant (who is nothing but an important turn for it), Husserl, etc, but under these etiquettes, there is the transcendental as invariant of the structure of the philosophical Decision as transcendental Unity, immanent and transcendent to the basic Dyad, consequently divided and claiming to be real, the Real, through its autoposition. In this very general sense, the transcendental is the superior dimension of all philosophy. This is how non-philosophy understands it, as that which forms a circle or doublet with the empirical on the one hand through the a priori, and with the Real on the other hand through autoposition.
In its philosophically overdetermined beginnings, non-philosophy is radically equivalent to the transcendental, and then has understood that its project–which risked passing for a radicalization of Husserl–demanded more than a supplementary overcoming of the transcendental, which is in every way first or commencement in the order of thought: that it demanded order it in the primacy of the Real as though in a cause by immanence, not present and positive but non-sufficient or negative. Non-philosophy thus displaces itself on four and not three orders: the Real or the One (foreclosed to the transcendental), the “empirical” given (or the thought-world), the transcendental (which the Real clones on the basis of the Unity of experience), the a priori (equally cloned but on the basis of the Transcendental which is the organon of philosophy). The transcendental forms the first instance of the force (of) thought. Now it is an individed identity although cloned–thus also “separated”–on the basis of divided transcendental Unity; or given-without-givennes in-the-last-instance on the basis of the givenness of this most cloven philosophical Unity. It is related from the point of view of its genesis and its function not in the a priori but even in the transcendental which serves as occasion for it. Thus non-philosophy effectively separates the amphibologies of the philosophical transcendental (with the empirical and with the Real) and the “subjective” identities which are its symptom, and all this without claiming to dissolve these amphibologies. Such an immediate dissolution of the latter would suppose that the One-in-One, the Real, be identitcal to one of their sides: this unilateral identification without fail leads to a new transcendental philosophy (M. Henry) and again to the disappearance of the Real.
“Applied” or variant usage of non-philosophy (proposed by A.F. Schmid) that adds to its axioms a supplementary axiom bearing upon the philosophical Decision: that of the de jure multiplicity of philosophical decisions. This axiom is simultaneously added to those of the vision-in-One and those formalizing the philosophical Decision.
- This problem has no meaning in philosophy and must not be confused with the philosophical problem of the One and the Multiple. At most, a historian-philosopher of philosophy (M. Gueroult) has elaborated a theory of the philosophical decision in a Fichtean spirit under the hypothesis of an empirical or de facto spatio-temporal multiplicity of philosophies.
Sufficiency demands the certitude and absoluteness ending in the principles of philosophy. Non-philosophy can on the contrary support and promote a practice of philosophy–and not a “pure” non-philosophy–by hypothesis rather than speculation, without sufficiency or exhaustiveness. The hypothesis is in every way a fundamental concept of non-philosophy but it is even more so for this “application” to which it gives rise. It allows admitting the coexistence of multiple positions, contrary from the point of view of their sufficiency, yet no longer understanding them as contraries or even as “positions” but as transcendental orders or transcendental Identities. Veritable differences of order are no longer determined by the war of philosophical interests but arise from multiple transcendental identities which are so many hypotheses. The engagements of philosophies, concepts, and names of philosophers are no longer the occasion of a hierarchization, the hypothesis being in-the-last-instance the form of equivalence of engagements. Likewise, we could suppose that the simulation has modified relations between theory and experience in the contemporary sciences, we could suppose that, understood in this sense, the hypothesis will transform the relations in philosophy which rule over the transcendental and the empirical while displacing one of the major problems of philosophical objectivity: the respect of the sciences and facts must accommodate themselves for the philosophers in their personal philosophical histories, that which leads them to perpetuate a vicious dialectic between the model and the elevated, the master and the disciple, against the other supposedly inauthentic positions. “Philosophizing by hypothesis” is a way of giving a meaning to a love-without-master-and-without-disciple in philosophy, and making of the latter a veritable oecumine for the Stranger. Philosophical individuation is then considered “ordinary” and no longer as the effect of a narcissistic difference.
If non-philosophy rigorously takes philosophy as reduced occasion and as “object,” nothing prevents us from supposing that this object possesses the degree and nature of autonomy which accords it this new axiom. In this case, non-philosophy modifies the practice of philosophy itself. It is a postulate there in the sense that no rule can allow us to preview the concrete nature of such effects. It is not simply a question of relating the content of the material to the One according to rules which deliver philosophy from its sufficiency, but of practicing philosophy, psychoanalysis, ethics, etc. in such a way that they satisfy the requisites of non-philosophy under this axiom. This schematism of non-philosophy in this material contributes to transforming the practice of philosophy in several ways. From the point of view of “pure reason,” philosophy would proceed by hypotheses and first terms, there would be as many philosophies as examples of the mixtures between the empirical and the transcendental. From the aesthetic point of view, every philosophical project would have its own style which could individuate it: this is one of the meanings that could be given to “artificial philosophy.” From the ethical point of view, radical evil, which concerns the World, would be judged as the lure that the distance of philosophy from the Real producing the essence of human solitudes on the basis of radical misfortune. Every concept elaborated by non-philosophy could be reintroduced into its original discourse and enrich it without for all that reproducing a logic of sufficiency. This schematism would be a positive and liberating transformation of the material in itself.
Such a schematism confirms that non-philosophy is in no way the end of philosophy but its salvation in multiple and non-exclusive practices. Philosophy continues as one of the forms of non-philosophy. This axiom in question is thus the condition of the reality of philosophy in non-philosophy. It saves philosophy from the edge of non-philosophy which it softens but without returning to the forms of its most spontaneous sufficiency.
Presentation (Non-autopositional Presentation)
Immanent structure of reference of non-philosophical statements. It is a clone or reflection-without-reflecting, a theoretical givenness effectuated by and as the force (of) thought.
- The metaphysics of Representation, or of autopositional representation as primary presence of the World, established itself in the 17th century. It is rediscovered beyond the doctrinal differences in every classical author, and it continues to predominate in the scientific psychology of perception. For classical authors, consciousness is a doubling of presence which, despite the subjective closure and cloistering, secretly reproduces an exterior of things for interior representation, a represented that prevails over its representation. Husserl and phenomenology have wanted to constitute this primary and presupposed relation to the World. But the difficult and extreme passage in the world-of-life (Lebenswelt) only signals the difficulty inherent to autopositional representation. The constitutive Representation only re-posits this relation to the world by positing the Real in thought. Thus it only posits what was presupposed by the classical authors. The theoreticians of deconstruction no doubt limit and displace the representation by différe(a)nce. However, this critique is still caught in the critiqued from which it originates: and the displacement of Representation is nothing less than its adequate emplacement by the Real. In short, Representation is the element of specularity (of the double reflection or divided reflection), of speculation and finally of speculative thought.
Thought (Continent of Thought)
Uni-versalized concept, identically equivalent for philosophical thought and scientific knowledge. Thought is in this sense that which is determined-in-the-last-instance or cloned from these two disciplines.
- The relations of thought and the real are given by the Parmenidian matrix: “Being and Thinking are the Same.” Thought and Being are in a relation of reciprocal dominance. Their identity can thus take on several forms: from the supposedly adequate correspondence of perception and object up to the identity of self-consciousness and consciousness of the object; the subjective “reflection” and objective reflection, dialectical identity of the real and the rational, but always in the respect of this co-respondance. Broken under the form of a (co-)respondance of a response-listening to Being (Heidegger), or a difference, a thought-in-the-trace (Derrida), this adequation subsists as one of the major presuppositions–one of the halves–of deconstructions and one of the most inherent criteria of the philosophical style.
First science introduces another “experience of thought”–this is its object–under the form of a triple innovation. 1) From the point of view of its origin: it abandons the Parmenidian matrix and breaks every a priori and non-a posteriori correspondence of thought to the Real. Instead of thought being supposed to co-determine the Real as Being, it is the Real–but as One–that determines it more than unilaterally or without reversibility (without reflection under some unspecified form of the one in the other): by foreclosure. This is the formula of their relations: “the One and thought, or the One and Being, are identical but only in-the-last-instance.” Thought can thus only hope to change itself according to the Real-One rather than changing the Real. 2) From the point of view of its nature: first science distinguishes its cause and its specific operations; on the one hand, the vision-in-One, the immanent lived experience proper to the One alone which responds to a third type of experience, of “knowing” or of manifestation which is neither Consciousness nor Reflection, neither the Unconscious or some unspecified logico-natural procedure, but that which can only call itself Given-without-givenness or Manifest-without-manifestation, etc.; on the other hand, its specific mechanisms which are no longer philosophical operations (reflection, dialectic, difference, etc.) or psychoanalytic (condensation, displacement, etc.) but the henceforth transcendental operations of induction and deduction. 3) From the point of view of its “subject” and its extension: a thought-science in the fullest sense of the term is finally recognized against the impoverishment of thought through which philosophy would affect the latter. Real thought in-the-last-instance by its cause: thinking by its practical immanence, somewhat deprived of all reflexivity or consciousness; rigorous by its non-circular operations, somewhat effective upon the natural language of philosophy.
Other name for philosophy in the broadest non-philosophical comprehension of its concept. Thought-world is any thought founded upon the principal resource of transcendence and the secondary resource (by right or in fact) of immanence–over their hierarchized mixture.
- Philosophy has always involved the narrowest relations with the World, primarily as thought positing cosmic order or cosmopolitical order: hence its more properly physical, indeed physicalist interest for the “World” (Descartes for example) or metaphysical for the origin of the World and its antinomies (Kant); or phenemenological for the “World-of-life,” Heidegger has believed this Greco-philosophical theme and the Christian theme of the “World” and its wisdom-madness in the elucidation of being-in-world to be the basic structure of Dasein.