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.


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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Laruelle and Non-Philosophy

John Mullarkey and I just sent off the completed manuscript for Laruelle and Non-Philosophy, which includes essays from Speculative Heresy favorites like Ray Brassier, Katerina Kolovzova, and Alexander R. Galloway, as well essays from Anne-Françoise Schmid, Marjorie Gracieuse, Rocco Gangle, Michael J. Olsen, John, myself, and an essay of and interview with Laruelle himself. We think it will be an important volume for those who are interested in Laruelle’s non-philosophy and help set the stage for further engagements with his work. The point of non-philosophy is, of course, not to provide yet another philosopher-guru, but aims to make use of philosophy and other forms of thinking. But understanding the method will help towards that end.

John has also written a short piece, extending on our editors’ introduction, that responds to Harman’s August review of the recent translation Philosophies of Difference.

Caputo on Meillassoux

What follows is an outline of Caputo’s lectures on the future of continental philosophy (both religious and not) that he is currently engaged in at Syracuse University with a few comments of my own. Mostly I want to outline some of the claims he makes and have a discussion about his views on Meillassoux, Brassier, and Laruelle. As of now only the lectures on Meillassoux are online but as Brassier and Laruelle will be coming up soon.

1rst Lecture

Caputo begins by asserting that Meillassoux proceeds like a Descartes sans god, setting forth mediations on correlationism instead  of the cogito. After outlining Leibniz and Descartes’ relation to the Principle of Sufficient Reason, Caputo addresses Kant and the nullification of the ontological proof of God since God, for both Leibniz and Descartes, guaranteed rationalism. Despite Kant’s demolition though Caputo notes that he set aside room for faith in order to allow for moral law, practical reason etc. This formal distinction yet saving of the noumenal forms the basis of weak correlationism.

Given the explosion of doubt we have the Hegelian retort that the noumenal/phenomenal distinction itself gives intuition into the noumenal and hence mind becomes substance, doubt becomes knowledge as Hegel absolutizes the correlation. Hegel’s post critical metaphysics gives the absolute necessity as spirit hence all things must be contingent but the totality must not be. Here Captuo suggests a disagreement between Zizek’s Hegel and Malabou’s. For Caputo, Hegel saves God as non-existent  but infinite womb of all being.

Caputo argues that Meillassoux ignores Kant’s claim that all metaphysics fail because they do not appreciate the limited applicability of the a priori categories.

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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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Badiou on Speculative Realism

Badiou was kind enough to have 30min one-on-one sessions with students who requested them. I decided to conduct a short interview of sorts following from his celebratory comments regarding Speculative Realism and some of the themes presented in the course thus far which has centered on the theme of negation.

Q: In class the other day you positively mentioned what you called the new Speculative Philosophy. How do you see your work in relation to the work of the Speculative Realists (Quentin Meillassoux, Ray Brassier, Iain Hamilton Grant and Graham Harman). Meillassoux sees himself as a materialist and not a realist, is this distinction pivotal for the future of metaphysics and affirmation as you see it?

A: The work of Speculative Realists, from the beginning is very interesting for me, and they refer to me sometimes too. The rupture with the idealist tradition in the field of philosophic study is of great necessity today. We return to the question of realism and materialism later. Its a very complex question.  The Speculative Realist position is the position where the point of departure of philosophy is not the relationship between the subject and object or the subject and the world and so on or what Quentin Meillassoux names correlationism. I have known Quentin Meillassoux for a long time I was in his doctoral dissertation and so on and from the very beginning Ive thought this description of correlationism and the critique of correlationism is a very important point. Its not the classical distinction between realism and materialism like in the Marxist tradition like with Althusser and so on. It was something else. It is very interesting to see that the point of departure of Meillassoux is finally the relationship between Hume and Kant. The idea of Quentin Meillassoux is practically that all philosophical tradition is in the space of Kant, the sense that correlationism is the only clear answer to the question of Hume. The idea of Quentin Meillassoux is that there is another possibility. We are not committed to the choice between Kant and Hume.

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Translation of Laruelle’s “Transvaluation of the Transcendental Method”

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.

I. Program

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?).

Non-philosophical Definitions on the Transcendental, Sense (of) Identity, Reflection, Generalization, Solitude, and Lived Experience

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.

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Non-Philosophical Definitions on Hypothesis, Experimentation, Noema, Noesis, Non-intuitive, Multiple, and Time-without-Temporality

Hypothesis (Philosophizing-by-Hypothesis)

“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.

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New Translation: Laruelle’s “My Parmenides”

Laruelle, Francois. “Mon Parmenide.” La Decision philosophique 7 (1989): 105-114.

On the argument: The One is One because it is One rather than because it is or is Other.

Non-Parmenidian Axioms

1. If the One (etc.), the One is the real identity that founds a transcendental rather than logical axiomatic.

2. If the One (…), and if Parmenides says the One that is, the transcendental axiomatic is non-Parmenidean.

3. If the One (…), and if man is the One itself, the Soul is the only non-Parmenidian identity.

4. If the One (…), axioms are specific effects that form the content of the Soul.

5. If the One (…), the Soul loves axioms.

6. If the One (…), the axiom is made for man, not man for the axioms.

7. If the One (…), Being, the Existent, the Other, Unity, and all the words of language form the alphabet of the transcendental axiomatic.

8. If the One (…), and if man is the only non-Parmenidian identity, the systems that axiomatize the Existent, Being, the Other, Unity, and all the words of language are the content of the Soul.

9. If the One (…), contraries can been rendered identical in the last instance of the One or are consistent.

10. If the One (…), axioms are consistent as affects in-One.

11. If the One (…), the transcendental consistency of axioms is neither their logical consistency nor their philosophical consistency of contraries under the rule of their identity.

12. If the One (…), then the statements: “The One is/and Being,” “the One is/and the Existent,” “the One is/and Unity” are philosophical axioms: transcendent, non-consistent, and illusory.

13. If the One (…), then the statements: “the One is” and “the One is not” are philosophical axioms: transcendent, non-consistent, and illusory.

14. If the One (…), then the statement: “man is an axiom for man” is a philosophical statement: transcendent, non-consistent, illusory.

15. If the One (…), non-Parmenidianism is identically non-Heracliteanism to the close difference of Parmenides and Heraclitus which is contingent.

16. If the One (…), the consistency of axioms is identically their solitude.

17. If the One (…), and if the real axiomatic bears upon every language, axiom is oracle.

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