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]





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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Materialist Political Economy

Two new websites worth checking out. The first is Synthetic Edifice, which collects texts related to the accelerationist manifesto – including translations, interviews, and expansions of the ideas in the manifesto. The second site is Speculative Materialism, which looks to be a really interesting new blog which bills itself as a forum for the study of the materialism and ontology of finance.

Call for Participants: Joan of Art – Towards a Free Educational Platform


Call for Participants: Joan of Art – Towards a Free Educational Platform in collaboration with Maldives Pavilion

The homogenization of learning and accreditation modes realized through the ‘Bologna Process’ accords with a marketisation of education across Western Europe which threatens the diversity of subjects on offer as vocational subjects and those which lean towards the project of rationality become prioritized in terms of funding and resources.

The Venice Process – started at Gervasuti Foundation, Venice, in collaboration with the national Pavilion of the Maldives during the 55th Venice Biennale – aims at offering an alternative education and accreditation system offered by a network of international art institutions.

Events – including performances, seminars and workshops – will span the Biennale, culminating in the writing of a free course in art and ecology – written in conjunction with the Maldives Pavilion – and the delivery of a conference on accreditation systems in November 2013.

We are issuing an international call out for academics, activists, artists and ecologists to participate in the writing of the free course on art and ecology. Participants will be asked to write a lecture or seminar (remotely) by the end of September 2013 and be available to present the course with other participants in Venice in late November.

Joan of Art: Towards a Free Education is an ongoing project started in residence with NOMAS foundation in Rome (2012). It aims at the creation of a free alternative education system delivered via a network of art institutions, globally.

Please send all inquires to

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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CFP: Tuning Speculation

“Tuning Speculation” will be a two-day conference hosted by the Department of Art and Art History at York University in Toronto from 1-2 November 2013.

Over the past few years, the term “speculation” has become something of a buzzword and has acquired a rhetorical currency that, arguably, owes much of its value to the way Speculative Realism’s agenda to emancipate thinking from a sense of indenture to its own finitude crystallizes a hazy longing in the humanities to invest in something besides the constant deployment of textual strategies and ideology critique. Indeed, a conjectural spirit can be found haunting recent work in feminism, media and animal studies, as well as certain spheres of the social and ecological sciences. However, the force of this speculative thrust has been largely directed towards advancing metaphysical models that challenge the interpretive exception of human experience such that aesthetic figurations, perhaps because the concept of the aesthetic is entangled in the very definition of human being, have been largely excluded from the game. This is lamentable because the speculative venture of the humanities shares much in common with experimental art practices where “an act the outcome of which is unknown” is the not the goal but the very point of departure.

This two-day conference will therefore address the idea of a speculative aesthetics and propose ways of tuning speculation to its imaginative and experimental principle. While several approaches can address the exclusion of the aesthetic from expressions of the current speculative attitude, we propose to concentrate on the sonic arts as an initial point of entry for the reason that the sonic arts rely on a constitutive conceit and effective imaginary that claims access to a material reality which can only be conceived through a rhetoric of immersion and immediacy. In this respect, we suggest that sound art, in the widest sense of the term, pressures the conceptual disconnect between the essentially fantastic gesture that speculation is and the necessary veracity that any realism or materiality demands.

Abstracts (300-500 words) for 30-minute papers from scholars/writers/artists in any relevant field are welcome. We are especially interested in presentations that recognize the necessary intimacy between speculative theory and fiction (in the broadest sense). Please send abstracts, along with biographical details and contact information, to by 30 June 2013. Participants will be informed of acceptance by 8 July 2013.

More details can be found at