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Translation of F. Laruelle’s “Toward an Active Linguistics”

I apologize in advance for the many bracketing of the French, but this was only to render the distinctions between langue and langage clear (as well as pouvoir and puissance). Furthermore, all the footnotes are mine, and I have included them to provide as much context and added scholarly value, so to speak, as possible. -TA

Laruelle, F. “Pour une linguistique active (la notion de phonèse)”, Revue philosophique de la France et de l’étranger Vol. 168 Issue 4 (Oct.-Dec. 1978): 419-431.

Toward an Active Linguistics (The Notion of Phonesis)

By François Laruelle

 “When one has demonstrated that a thing is of the highest utility, one has however thereby taken not one step towards explaining its origin: that is to say, one can never employ utility to make it comprehensible that a thing must necessarily exist”.[1]

This axiom is not Spinoza’s, but Nietzsche’s (Daybreak, #37). If we introduce a Spinozist point of view (i.e. anti-Cartesian) into linguistics, what will be our estimation of man? Will we impose on science’s serenity the requirements of an Ethics and the point of view of the active passions? How does one speak of God’s enjoying? How does one make of linguistics a science of beatitude in the subject?

The idea of an active linguistics

An era is fading away under our steps, that era in which antihumanism served as the sigil if not for linguistics, then at least for the philosophical usages of linguistics. We are now free to pose our problem otherwise, to add complements and nuances to it, to differentiate this antihumanism. For quite a while it’s been a misunderstanding, both in linguistics and outside. A principle was made of antihumanism, whereas it’s perhaps nothing but an effect; it was made into a project, whereas it was just the index of other deeper critiques and surely the symptom (but it became automatic) of a change of terrain in the manner of apprehending the phenomena of language. Taken in its sense and its ambitions, this structural mutation should be a “break”, but too often it functions less as a veritable displacement than as a simple “revolution”, i.e. a reversal that returns on the spot and passes through the same positions. It leads to refusals that we esteem as fully and completely inefficacious. Furthermore, on this terrain certain rectifications have been set in motion, more or less explicitly (by Althusser, Lacan, Foucault). It suffices to extend this line of new deeds to define the limits that antihumanism may not surpass in order to remain what it is. For on the one hand it’s a method, or, if you will, merely a procedure and a strategy devoted to the determination of certain critical effects against classical anthropological presuppositions; on the other hand, it’s a tendency that can receive new theoretical forms and new instruments, pass through non-structural mutations and become in these forms a guiding thread for a new examination of language’s phenomena, i.e. the project of an “active linguistics” that we shall outline below. What are these limits?

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Translation of F. Laruelle’s Introduction to “Textual Machines”

The following is a translation of F. Laruelle’s Introduction to Machines textuelles (Pais: Seuil, 1976), pp. 9-19, by Taylor Adkins, 9/1/13.

Introduction to Textual Machines: Deconstruction and Libido of Writing

            The text, well, it doesn’t send word [s’envoie pas dire], but one can always say [dire] something about it.

Thus I am attempting to simultaneously guide an analysis of deconstruction’s techniques and a displacement of their problematics onto neighboring positions, about which I’m hoping that their neighborhood, in order to have some relation to topology, is neither good nor bad.

Which positions? Those which are implicated, not manifestly but latently, in “Nietzsche-thought”, or in the esoteric problematics of the Eternal return and the Will to power, which I shall call generalized repetition and intensive libido respectively. At the risk of seeming to elicit deconstruction’s virulence and facing the perils of an ideological regression, I am attempting to relate deconstruction to a principle of functionality a) that transforms it into a libidinal process of textual production; b) that pretends[1] to reprise, even activate, effects-of-deconstruction on its behalf.

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Translation of F. Laruelle’s “The Transcendental Computer: A Non-Philosophical Utopia”

The following is a revision and correction of a preliminary draft drawn up by my friend Chris Eby several years ago. Since he undertook the task for the sheer pleasure of it, it’s state on Scribd cried out for a new edition. I have taken the liberty of reworking the essay in its entirety, so now all problems with the translation rest on my shoulders!

The Transcendental Computer

A Non-Philosophical Utopia[1]

 

By

 

François LARUELLE

Translated by Taylor Adkins and Chris Eby

The unified theory of thought and computing [calcul][2], a unification in-the-last-identity, is a task facing every encyclopedic mind (Morin, Serres). It is also the theme of the transcendental computer (TC), of a machine that would have a transcendental relation to philosophy in its entirety and would therefore be able to compute-think the blendings of thought and computing according to a “unified” mode, such as, for example, a transcendental arithmetic like Platonism or any other combination of these prevalent terms in philosophy and computing. Beforehand, a prejudicial question concerning the degree of non-philosophy’s automaticity should be dealt with. In this sense, what follows is an attempt at the limits of the theme of a transcendental computer.

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Translation of Laruelle’s “The Concept of Generalized Analysis or of ‘Non-Analysis’

Laruelle, François. “La concept d’analyse generalisée ou de ‘non-analyse’”, Revue internationale de philosophie, vol. 43, no. 171, issue 4 (1989), p. 506-524.

The Concept of Generalized Analysis or of ‘Non-Analysis’

The Judaic Turn of Philosophy

            The undoing of philosophy by psychoanalysis seems to animate and traverse the recent history of the former more so than the latter. This is at least how it appears. It is impossible to give a list of the avatars of continental philosophy of this century without taking this struggle as our guiding thread. Primarily a secret struggle—wherein the adversaries are sought out (to the point of excluding Lacan)—then manifested and claimed as such—wherein the adversaries are recognized and in turn take on the role of enforcing the peace. From this point of view, the parties appear more and more equal. Between philosophy and psychoanalysis, it is not a question of a banal combat of positivist mastery or even of a unilaterally philosophical attempt (merely of appropriation, and merely reflexive and hermeneutic, even if this case is produced and represents a spontaneous solution), but of a conflict waged that is sometimes stronger than the adversaries themselves, of a difference that relates them to one another in the greatest distance and through a strategy of reciprocal appropriation and disappropriation (variously balanced according to the authors). This would be a unilateral and already too philosophical interpretation, like that of seeing philosophy alone leading an enterprise of conquest without nuances, and it is not always inversely psychoanalysis that brings with it the charge of alterity, of critique, and perhaps the most powerful deconstruction. The necessity and nature of this combat (superior to the parties in question) are precisely what determine the crossed becomings and command philosophy’s offensive, and not merely defensive, actions. Its most recent history, although non-hermeneutic, is that of the most enduring blows that it has attempted to launch: The History of Sexuality (Foucault), Anti-Oedipus (Deleuze and Guattari), The Postal Card (Derrida) and finally The Genealogy of Psychoanalysis (Henry) manifest an offensive will where philosophy also allows itself, as in every great combat, to be determined by the adversary. In reality this manner, this style of difference, i.e. of struggle with the angel of analysis, a struggle recognized as infinite and taking its nobility from its incapacity to conclude, began at least with Kojéve and Wittgenstein.[1]

It is useless to say that nothing allows foreseeing the treaty of a real peace, even if on Lacan’s side and after him the question of philosophy in analysis and not merely facing it is incessantly re-opened. It is indeed on the background of this combat, which surpasses them and claims to be interested by thought itself, that the particular history of contemporary philosophy must be re-examined and re-evaluated beyond every problematic of cultural “influences.” Perhaps even, going deeper, it is with Freud more so than Wittgenstein that the Judaic turn begins: this is what profoundly determines the philosophy of the 20th century and is still broader, more dissimulated than this combat with analysis, which is in some sense its mise en scène or its primary representation. We put forth the hypothesis that this Judaic turn is philosophy’s point of inexhaustible fecundity after Nietzsche and facing this sword thrust in the Heraclitean river that should remain Rosenzweig’s protestation for quite a while; to commence, for this is to forget, via Heidegger through his reactivation of the “thing in-itself” and a Kantianism impregnated by ethics; to pursue through Wittgenstein then Derrida; to set off again by infinite provocation in the interminable echoes of Levinas; to punctuate the actions of a more or less offensive resistance of Kojéve, Ricœur, Deleuze, Henry.

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Translation of Laruelle’s “Who Are Minorities and How To Think Them”

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.

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Notes to Laruelle’s ‘Introduction to the Generic Sciences’

[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.

Introduction

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.

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Translation of Laruelle’s “Badiou and Non-Philosophy: a Parallel”

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.

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