Chapter 3 of Laruelle’s Introduction to Non-Marxism: Determination-in-the-Last-Instance (DLI)

Laruelle, Francois. Introduction au non-marxism. PUF: Paris, 2000. 39-55.

Chapter III: Determination-in-the-Last-Instance

First Elucidation of the Determination-in-the-Last-Instance (DLI)

The determination-in-the-last-instance, invented by Marx-Engels for historical Materialism, never received from them a concept adequate enough to simultaneously produce all the theoretical and critical effects within its capacity. It has been understood in a far too empirical manner, applied on models of ontico-regional, physical and chemical causality (theory of gases, composition of forces) completely inadequate for the foundation of a new science of history and society, let alone the thought-world. It has thus been fashionable to dialectize and re-philosophize it, to fold it with what should justifiably replace and suspend it, the dialectic as essence of philosophy under its most theoretical and idealist form across its materialist reversal apparently more capable of giving it its fecundity (confusion of the Real of immanence with matter). Marx’s great discovery—uni-lateral causality against all philosophical phantasms of reciprocity and convertibility—has remained fallow without having been exploited in its non-philosophical power (puissance), more heretical than philosophically “revolutionary.” So as to elucidate it in our style, i.e. make its Marxist forms appear as simple symptoms and models of a more radical concept of causality, the method follows three periods, the third being the most important for our purposes. The first reassembles its Marxist statements and usages—these are known. The second consists in “listening to” the first immediate, quasi-phenomenological suggestions which contain the same formula of “DLI” and in treating them as a prioris which give the DLI and which must be transformed. The third, which we will particularly develop, endeavors to “ground” in a real-transcendental way, i.e. here and better still, to determine these a priori traits as belonging to the same Real or to the immanent infrastructure as its innermost causality (causalité la plus propre).
Following the simple formulation of “DLI” suffices to posit these three traits:

1. It is a question of a causality of which one could say that it is unique except that it calls for or supposes another, as if it were the only one yet nevertheless insufficient. Thus there are two causalities, one being primary, the other being secondary, yet both insufficient in their own way. Heterogeneous but necessary to one another so as to form a unique causality, they have—or it has—this paradoxical nature of being precisely a unique causality yet formed from two pieces which remain two and do not synthesize or form a system. Nevertheless, it is not a question of “difference,” of the co-extension of the One and the Two, of the One which is Two and of the Two which is One in a reversible way. The DLI instead seems to have to be irreversible, the One is nothing but One, even with the Two, and the Two forms a Two with the One only from its point of view as Two.

2. Another trait of this syntax without synthesis signifies that all secondary causality, if it be multiple, is only accounted for and introduced in the final “calculation” up to the condition of “passing” through the primary trait or through the infrastructure in regard to which it is, by definition, “indebted” or which gives it its new or irreducible power (pouvoir) of causality in its re-appropriation by the thought-world, i.e. by the infrastructure’s own logic. What does “passing through” signify or how are the One and the Two articulated?

3. The final trait that is completely phenomenologically apparent in the formula which we haven taken as a symptom is the nature of the quasi- invariant or constant of the “last instance,” by opposing the variations of nature or region to the variability of secondary causality.

These somewhat a priori traits condition the intelligibility of the DLI, allowing it to be given across them. It now remains, from the non-Marxist perspective, to explain them beginning from the Real or the immanent concept of the infrastructure, more exactly to determine them as a syntax imposed by the infrastructure, and to make their Marxist forms appear as their restrained symptoms and models.

Misadventures of Immanence (from Spinoza to Henry)

In philosophy, Marxism included, immanence is an objective, a proclamation, an object, never a manner of thinking or a style.

The recent history of Marxism has been directed by the following question: given that the Hegelian context does not stand any real chance, which philosophers should we turn to so as to re-activate and universalize it? To Spinoza (the parallelism of the object and of knowledge, their unity without origin or end)? To the phenomenology of immanence (labor power (force de travail) as the ontology of the radical individual)? To Nietzsche (the transindividual)? To Epicurus (aleatory materialism)?

Spinoza’s philosophy brought about the idea of a real causality of immanence, but the Spinozist ensemble remains inscribed—at least what is recognized after Fichte—in the transcendence of a quasi-thing above consciousness or man. That of life and its auto-affection (M. Henry) reinforces immanence but on a more “absolute” than “radical” mode and overcomes every causality of the Real, except by positing it in a simultaneously abstract and transcendental way on the one hand, and as concrete labor alienated from the exterior in an incomprehensible way through commercial exchange on the other. In order to construct non-Marxism, a real identity more immanent still than Spinoza’s is necessary, a cause without All and without synthesis or even expression: and a causality proper to this identity rather than the mediation of an alienation by the World or capitalism. It is remarkable that in these two cases the DLI is unthinkable, insufficient, and transient, which we conceive to be the aid of the One-All of substance, or of the One of transcendental Life. Causality always risks being lost in transcendence, as with Spinoza, even if it is called “immanent” (this is the distinction of an “immanent causality” and of a causality of or through immanence). Or, as with Henry, of being lost in immanence itself as simple interiority where it disappears and becomes transcendental, yet still coupled as labor power with the empirically given unintelligible mechanism of commercial exchange.

It is in the DLI as causality of the Real-One rather than of Being that the two aspects of causality and the Real-without-Being are unified. In the name of causality, we must stop projecting the latter into transcendence: in the name of immanence, we must stop reducing the latter to a merely transcendental immanence so as to then project it as pretentiously real under the form of the auto-generation of Life. The DLI is a simultaneously real, universal, immanent, and heterogeneous or critical causality and, under these titles, it does not return to the four forms of the causality of Being (final, material, formal, efficient). Being is not the most Real, the Real in person (it is divided and supports difference): it is not the most universal (it is only a supra-generic and divided universal); nor the most immanent (it is principally defined by transcending); nor the most heterogeneous or critical (it is said of the existent and at most attains the heterogeneity of difference or, at best, of the pure multiple). Spinoza does not make it possible, perhaps no more than Hegel, to fulfill these demands to the degree that they are those of radicality. His single and immanent cause remains transcendent and thus alienated and alienating. The seemingly opposed interpretation of labor power as organic, individual or monadic life (Henry), although in principle immanent to man, is still posited as the object of a thought which, for its account, in fact remains transcendent and this time separates it too much from the critical-revolutionary aspect and from “class struggles,” from the “World” if you will, and destines it to a religious life. Both philosophers seemingly fulfill one of these demands but not all of them, thus actually fulfilling none.

Non-Marxism, very externally, can seem like a synthesis of Spinoza and Henry to even the diverse doctrinal Marxist. In reality, it is much more their unified theory. The latter transforms, we will say, the Spinozist Unity of each attribute and of the attributes into a simple aspect of non-Marxism which has created the objective appearance of a transference of doctrine. Similarly, the immanence of “individual organic life” is transformed into a simple aspect of the “subject Stranger, or of the “force (of) thought” as real content of the “proletariat.” But non-Marxism has commenced by reducing the efficacy of these philosophical determinations. Primacy is not of matter over consciousness, but of the real One over the matter/consciousness, being/life, and also practice/theory dyad, more globally still of the Real over the thesis (of the) Real, such that the latter determines the former in-the-last-instance. Here we displace Marxism and its materialism from the terrain of transcendence, of capitalistic and philosophical representation, onto that of radical immanence (like Henry, contrary to Spinoza), but real and not transcendental (like Spinoza, contrary to Henry). Only an intrinsic unification without synthesis of these two demands in a radical perspective, in a Given-without-givennes whose other name is that of “infrastructure,” makes it possible to ground these two aspects upon which these philosophers part ways and which, unified, are at the basis of non-Marxism. Thus transformed into a causality of real immanence (DLI), these aspects make it possible to understand that Marxism’s essence to come is not itself Marxist and to reduce its varieties to a unique axiomatic.

The immanence proposed by philosophers always responds to models, thus to something slightly transcendent, and is never sufficiently radical so as to determine a thought according to immanence or the Real-of-the-last-instance. Marxism necessarily remains the site of antinomies and draws a naïve glory from its crises and its conflicts which are, even so, more philosophical than political. In any case, the individual and “immanent life” of organic labor power (Henry) remains an immanence-entity, a transcendental-thing precisely because it remains posited by an act of thought instead of integrally determining the latter. According to Jacobi against Fichte, materialism is vigilant against idealism but, more universally still, it must be said that the thought-world remains vigilant against the transcendental, capitalism, and labor power when these are not determined by real Identity and its being-performed as the meaning of the infrastructure.

This irreducibility of the Real to productive forces has a precise sense: we cannot confuse labor power, individual organic life, still transcendent by its theoretical status or by the way in which it is posited and presupposed, with truly “radical” and no longer absolute immanence. Such a labor power is rather the moment of the subject (proletariat) than the determining cause in-the-last-instance. Non-Marxism unilaterally (uni-laterally) distinguishes the Real, the last-instance, and the subject, and thus the “force (of) thought” or “practice” rather than “labor power,” a distinction which ensures the inalienable nature of the Real and excludes it from the incomprehensible mechanism of economical alienation through commercial exchange.

On its side, the materialist break brought about the more or less pure sense of the Real against idealism but only within the interior of philosophy itself. Instead of the transcendental, it remains a simple cynicism, a primary causality between instances. Instead of the subordination of the transcendental to the Real, it simply remains a truncated philosophy, subtracted from itself and turned back against itself. Non-Marxism is a work of thought and knowledge of the World—of theory—thus a transcendental thought, not a simple primary shock between instances-things. The Real as well as the thought-world, the two extremes, derealize theory and the subject (the Proletariat or what it remains), and obliges them to be a simple thought-knowledge. This would be a regionalist cynicism and somewhat thinglike rather than directly equivalent, for example, to a non-economy, a non-art, etc., which is not initially a non-economic thought-knowledge, etc. The latter would be a positively non-philosophical and non-scientific thought, then specifiable on the economic, political or ethical level through new axioms specifying its uni-versal axioms—risking normalization.

The Real is not, properly speaking, an “instance” or a “sphere,” eventually a “region,” to the degree that, by definition, it does not belong to the thought-world or to the World—this is the meaning of the “last instance.” The ensemble of Marxism’s objects and theoretical themes, its massively materialist (hence philosophical) economy, therefore must be reorganized and otherwise reconfigured so as to change its theoretical status. Insofar as he is also a philosopher, Marx postulates despite certain hesitations—this is the unitary, idealist appearance—a continuity between history, its crises and mutations, and theory. This is a continuity assured by the concepts of practice and contradiction which remain philosophical (dialectical) in every way and impregnated by empiricism. Hence an amphibology of the Real and the economy, under the form of the “last instance” understood as productive forces, and which is certainly not dismantled radically when, for example, individual organic labor power is posited as the ontologico-transcendental foundation of the economy.

This confusion is in reality two-fold: between the infrastructure and a particular region (Marx “philosophy of the economy,” etc.): between the diverse regions which are noted acting directly on one another in a poorly elucidated mixture. The most dangerous confusion is that of the economy and the “real base,” of the regional and the Real. Hence an ambiguous distinction between infra- and superstructure which prohibits any explication besides a fruitless and vicious one of the thought-world as philosophy and economy, but also as philosophy and politics. The confusion of real and occasional cause compromises every interpretation of Marxism, including Marx’s, be it as ontological and transcendental as we could want. Capitalistic economy, but also philosophy and politics, must be intrinsically rejected as transcendent in the sphere of the thought-world to be explicated, even if these three are also appealed to, but under the angle of the suspension of their sufficiency under the title of simple aspects in the same explication of the thought-world. Likewise, any causality of one instance over another, if it does not pass through the mediation of form-philosophy, i.e. through the criterion of its belonging to the thought-world or to the deployed concept of the superstructure, is justifiably a return to the causality of the thought-world, “ideological” causality, and comes to prohibit a theoretical explanation of these instances or, better still, precisely their “reciprocal” causality. A construction between regions (economy/politics, politics/philosophy, politics/theory, economy/law, etc.) remains intra-worldly, empirical and vicious, if it does not pass each time through a universal unified theory of each of its correlations, univocal for all, excluding every regional primacy.

Non-Marxism will therefore above all substitute, from its syntactic perspective, the uni-lateral duality (the “last instance”) for contradiction, for “struggle” or “division” which are transcendent philosophical operators. Althusser’s efforts to structurally organize the economy of these instances and to escape from a “first” and cynical materialism could only end up in a false immanence of quasi-totality (the “all”) but not of identity. The attempts to render Marxism its immanence have ended in a reinforcement of its exteriority and its transcendence. Its philosophical reconstructions generally efface, for example in a (materialist) break, a discovery which is forceful in a different way than any break. Non-Marxism is the heteronomous critique and usage—heteronomous through immanent uni-laterality, not alterity—of the particular and limited nature of Marxism. Thus it is in every way the refusal of its critique in the name of the empirical description of its failure, a failure sometimes of science, sometimes of philosophy—of one of Marxism’s particular concepts which would have been misunderstood or forgotten—sometimes of their philosophical or divided unity. As critique, it manifests the reasons behind the confusion of science and philosophy, of theory and experimental reference, particularly in the themes of as well as insistence upon “real,” “concrete,” or “applied Marxism.” Hence also the confusion of its objects: history and society on the one hand, productive forces and the Real on the other, man and labor power, etc. These are so many amphibological or generously unitary concepts furnished by the philosophical spirit and do not ground the object of a unified theory.

Insufficiency of the Marxist Determination-in-the-Last-Instance (DLI)

Under its materialist form, the DLI possesses several general traits which should be related so as to transform and radicalize them.

1. “Determination” is not an auto-positional act, a Kantian-critical operation of the primacy of the determination over the determined. Here the reverse primacy is already announced without a return to dogmatism, yet still under an ambiguous form. It is the determined, the real as matter-without-determination, that makes the determination. The infrastructure’s nature as given does not especially have an empirical meaning—like Bestand (existence)—it is instead the primacy of the given over givenness, of the determined over determination.

2. The determined-without-determination is not or is not simply the infrastructure in its empirical and regional content, but the real immanence of the latter, its power (pouvoir) of causing or determing, such that it can be visible in the basis of labor power where it receives an organic form, but which, beyond Marxism, must be treated as the symptom of an immanence more universal than organic and to which Marx never aspires.

3. The DLI, which is this real power (pouvoir) of determining, is in every way an ontological and transcendental type of concept, even related to matter. It is not an ontic and regional concept with a physico-chemical or linguistic-structuralist model: nor ontological (formal, final, efficient, and…material, which Marx forgets to exclude with the other forms of metaphysical causality). The DLI only has meaning in reality for the Real as radical One-in-One or Identity. Marx, because of the materialist break, limits it to matter, but the DLI completely implies the refusal of matter as cause (hence the efforts of certain philosophers to distinguish the category of materialism and the concept of matter…). Radical immanence can no longer take a specifying, restrictive, and transcendent ontological form like the one matter still has. It is de facto inalienable, unequal to its most distant effects—this is the “last instance,” uni-versal de facto (that through which all ontic and ontological forms must “pass”), but justifiably only in the last instance (it reserves the relative autonomy of these secondary forms of causality). Such is the real core—and not “rational”—of the dialectic, whether materialist or not. Althusser’s “error,” for example, is to have sought in Marx the rational, thus philosophical and idealist, core of the Hegelian dialectic whereas, with all philosophers, it is necessary to initially identify the real symptomatic core. Materialism, like finalism, technologism, and formalism, is expulsed from and by the DLI understood in its universal identity.

The DLI being an original causality, without regional (naturalist or social) or fundamental and metaphysical model, thus contradicts materialism, even if the latter is a sort of immediate symptom of the immanent Real, including Neo-Platonism where causality has unilateral but restrained forms. In other words, its elucidation requires a minimum of “speculation” on the general conditions of its internal possibility. Marx ascribes to the idea of a causality of the infra- on the superstructure without really elucidating it as the original imbrication (“cloning”) of immanence and transcendence, as causality of the Real on the Ideal or on the mixture of the Ideal and Effectivity. More radically still, the materialist context forces it to interpret this causality in an ontic-primary way, whereas, if it must also render knowledge possible as identically theoretical and philosophical, it is a causality to every grasping (having an “intellective” rather than material-regional causality) or which makes of the immanent Real an experience of quasi-knowing (savoir), better still, of phenomenality.

If Marx has acquired a concept which begins to be viable concerning the immanence of the Real, he stills proceeds in a metaphysical way, thus through a philosophical decision rather than an axiomatic act of “primary ultimation.” Certain interpreters, like Henry, have developed this aspect of immanence but by forgetting the “critical and revolutionary” aspect which conveys the DLI. Others, like Althusser, on the contrary have developed the aspect of transcendence, politics, and contradiction, but by completely forgetting the radical conditions of the DLI through idealism. Non-Marxism, from this relative perspective, we said, can seem like the exact identity of these two extreme interpreters, but an identity situated outside their interpretations. Non-Marxism is the determination-in-the-last-instance of these restrained and partial interpretations.

The crucial problem of materialism is then that it cannot form its own theory and needs an external theory of a philosophical origin, of an idealist complement under the form of a materialist position, for example under the form of the distinction of the category of materialism and of the real—of matter—which must fulfill it. Thus the DLI, which would have had to suffer if it had been fully deployed in its identity, requires the complement of a theory (of the) dialectic. Hence a philosophical type of division between the DLI which passes for a material causality of the object, sometimes physico-mechanical, and a dialectic of contradiction which overdetermines it so as to render it intelligible and philosophically acceptable. But the DLI should not only be the object of a theory but also its subject and its cause (we will argue under a non-Hegelian form), the same type of causality of identity (of science and philosophy), an identity which is creative of knowledge, consequently without this identity (of the last instance) having anything Hegelian about it. The problem is resolved when the DLI stops being thought in exteriority, according to the model of socio-economic causality, and when the infrastructure stops being posited as a matter or when it is understood as radical immanence, i.e. as One and vision-in-One. Because then without being itself a knowing (savoir) or a knowledge (connaissance) (the Real is foreclosed to this idealism), it is given-without-givenness which is sufficient to itself, a real experience which is foreclosed to knowledge but capable of determining it outside of every materialist relation or any other. The Real is so heterogeneous to thought that it is capable of determining it as well as making it a cause-through-immanence (this will be the “cloning” of the practical subject through the infrastructure beginning from the material of the superstructure).

The “real” solution to this problem of the DLI as object and cause of its own theory must avoid Hegelian idealism even more than materialism does. Neither cause in exteriority or dialectical identity of contraries, the Real is cause through immanence and determines the knowledge of its own syntax, of its causality, through a process that we will call cloning. In other words, the object X to be known must be, on the one hand, tested as radically immanent (i.e. seen-in-One, object of the vision-in-One) so as to be able to itself determine this form, and, on the other hand, its own knowledge. This determination is a cloning through itself, but as One or immanent, of its knowledge. The material of the latter is furthermore given initially in its symptomatic form by philosophical and transcendent knowledge across which it is given “empirically” under philosophico-capitalistic conditions, a form which precisely must be determined-in-the-last-instance by itself. This is what needs to be explained more precisely.

This is the object X to be known. If it is affected by immanence or the DLI, i.e. seen-in-One, then it can clone itself beginning from the material that is transcendence. X is X-in-One, immanent mode of the One, and now can be said transcendentally of X insofar as it is not immanent or is given the transcendence of the “object” to be known. Thus in general, the DLI fully deployed is the causality which universally renders possible that whichever object X itself determines but in the last instance its own “real” knowledge, i.e. the identity of the theoretical and the philosophical. X (or better yet, for example, the concept of the DLI itself) is not known in exteriority, in an idealist way, but through itself without this identity of the Real and of knowledge taking on the dialectical form (real = rational, etc.) since it takes on the form of DLI. There is no transcendent subject, knowledge is the subject, its “own” subject if you will, as well as its object, but to the nearby “last instance” of the Real. As if it required that matter (that of “materialism”) itself be known, either capable of its own theory without passing through dialectical identity or some other philosophical apparatus destined to assure the reversibility of the object known and the knowledge of the object. Since it obviously cannot satisfy this self-knowledge, save by having recourse to an idealist and metaphysical complement which is called “materialism” as position and system of categories, it must be admitted that it is not matter which can explain or render universal the identity of the DLI, i.e. the full usage of this concept, and that there is a definite contradiction between the DLI and materialism, above all dialectical materialism. When it is understood in its universal identity and when it is substituted for the dialectic everywhere and deprives it of every object, the DLI can both be equivalent to whichever object X—since it has the philosophical form of the World—and that of the DLI itself. Its bearing is identically ontic and theoretical, it is univocally equal for every object. When the DLI is the cause or immanent object of its own theory, we will say that this theory is the force (of) thought, the theory of the force (of) thought being the same as the latter in-the-last-instance. As though “labor power” (force de travail) were finally capable of its own “proletarian” theory, without Hegelian idealism, or became the restrained model of the universal instance of the force (of) thought.

The object to be known, while remaining the known object, must therefore be capable of determining its knowledge. So as to avoid the idealism of the dialectic under its Hegelian form, it thus suffices that this object X be capable of radical immanence and not of the transcendence of matter—that which is only possible if the DLI is the causality of the real base as radical immanence. This is to simultaneously respect the post-critical urgency of a knowledge of the object through the object itself along with the relative autonomy of the latter in relation to this knowledge. Knowledge is heterogeneous to the known object, but it is the latter which determines the former in-the-last-instance. The object X is identically—without being philosophically divided—cause of-the-last-instance of its knowledge and known object. Materialism simulates this property of the object on the “base” of the vision-in-One. Basically the DLI and its identity have been divided between a material cause and a materialist or philosophical theory of this causality. The identity of the DLI signifies that it is capable of its own knowledge without philosophical operation. The old problem of the possibility of knowledge is resolved not by the appeal to a transcendental subject or a ground but by the being-foreclosed of the Real to knowledge, of every object to its knowledge, a being-foreclosed which does not render knowledge possible but determines it.

Mechanism of the DLI: Cloning of the Superstructure

There is an unspecified given object X to be thought according to the DLI: what does this mean? The DLI is only understood on the basis of certain distinctions which are not regional and fundamental but equivalent with the real One.

1. The DLI requires being posited on the terrain of the radical One, rather than of Being and the Existent, and not even that of the One-which-is. Radical immanence can affect every X and constitute it on a “real base,” but it is what subtends the DLI, it is not this X. Any division between regional realities cannot explain it, and so it’s not necessary to fall back on such distinctions (for example, matter/ideology, be it redoubled in the ideality of the matter/materiality of ideology). The One does not have such a content, it is thus universal or univocal and does more than “surpass” whichever particular philosophical mechanism. The infrastructure is only determining in-the-last-instance if it has the uni-versality of immanence rather than that of fundamental and regional generality. But, on this basis of the One-Real, whichever material taken from the World or from universal capital can also come to determine it in-the-last-instance (from its knowledge), if axioms are added which specify this uni-versality of the Real. If it does not have the properties of radical immanence, if it does not receive them or if instead they are not “given,” a regional object of the World or the World itself—in general both simultaneously—cannot ensure a DLI or act in this way on themselves so as to produce their own “scientific” knowledge. Non-Marxism no longer supports an ontologico-transcendental and ontico-regional thematic, for example epistemo-logic. The epistemo-logical mixture, if it wishes to be able to determine its “own” identically philosophical and theoretical knowledge in-the-last-instance, must change its status and pass through the radical immanence of the infrastructure.

It thus cannot be a question of taking X alone since it is given in the context of its extraction, or with its native status and the pretentions which accompany it. In fact, X is necessarily presented in the capital-world, and if philosophy is the law of the World, then it is presented as philosophically posited or as explicitly philosophizable de facto. But the “ontological” status of this givenness, whatever its particular philosophical treatment be (empirical, idealist, phenomenological, etc.), prohibits it from fulfilling the DLI or satisfying it. It is necessary that X itself be given via the mode of the given-without-givenness or radical immanence so as to fulfill the conditions of a DLI: that it be reducible to a mode of the Real, that it be seen-in-One or “affected” by the vision-in-One. Marxist materialism is content with a half-solution and only posits the infrastructure—when it even wants to broach this problem—as immanence, manufacturer or cause of immanence for its knowledge, via the mode which tolerates matter. The DLI is such that it has no meaning in the World and for matter appropriated via the World’s mode of givenness.

2. Due to the universality of the DLI which we require, from its univocality for every object taken from capital and having the uni(-)versal world-form or capital-form, X not only receives the status of infrastructure but also completely preserves that of the superstructure. An unspecified regional and transcendent distinction like that of productive forces and relations of production, or of ideology, no longer has relevance at this level of univocality and will only regain it later as the object of specific axioms added to that of the DLI, Marxism being able to be nothing but a model for non-Marxism. Thus, in this sense, the superstructure also must participate in this immanence, but justifiably this will only be “in-the-last-instance.” That means that X must always also be considered in its (relative) autonomy or in the transcendence with which it is given since the World, i.e. since universal capitalism: but this transcendence (no longer ideological or restrained, explicitly and thematically capitalistic) is now in turn affected via a different mode, a transcendental mode, by the immanence of the Real which is now said of it. This is cloning.

3. Thus X’s mode of givenness is considered in two ways: as given-without-givenness or radically immanent, a status which nullifies the reality of its transcendence and the consistency of its specific content: and as completely given-through-givenness via the mode of capitalistic transcendence and from its (relative) autonomy. But X’s two modes of givenness only grounds but one, without being synthesized for all that. Because the real immanence of X seen-in-One is not divided by capitalistic transcendence as it would be under a philosophical identity. But everything remains as is or inalienable despite this capitalistic transcendence, it is said of the latter or afterwards receives another usage, transcendental and no longer simply real. Real immanence does not absorb or annihilate capitalistic transcendence, it is not opposed to it, but is capable of “receiving” and determining it as relative autonomy. Real immanence is so radical—and not “absolute”—that it does not philosophically or phenomenologically reduce the transcendence of the World, it neither denies or limits it, but, on the contrary, gives it—certainly via its own mode: as being-given-without-givenness from transcendence itself which, while remaining “absolute” or auto-positional in its order, acquires a relative autonomy in relation to the Real. The concept of the “relative autonomy” of the superstructure belongs to the “logic” of the DLI and supposes real immanence, but is not deduced from the spontaneous transcendence of the World such as given-through-givenness.

On this basis or grounds of this “reduction” of X, of this given-through-givenness which is itself given in turn without-givenness, radical immanence is equivalent to or for this transcendence in its content or its own consistency of transcendence. Therefore, because “there is” an infrastructure, there is a superstructure which “falls” under its efficiency. Why? Even reduced in its absolute pretention, X is not nullified, and furthermore it is no longer given only in an empirical and absolute way but lays claim to its autonomy henceforth “in the interior” of its radical being-given and can do nothing but postulate a transcendent One which ensures for it its consistency of X or its relative autonomy, which in this way does not contradict the radical being-given. It is necessary not to forget that, due to its formalized generality, it is not only an ontico-ontological content but a way of being-given (without givenness), and that real immanence participates in this transcendence of the World, but in the “sterilized” or de-absolutized content of the latter. In a certain way it seems to limit the effect of immanence, but it no more limits it than the latter negatively affects transcendence. On the other hand, the Real being said also of this transcendence of X as irreducible and added core has already fulfilled the role of a transcendental function (in relation to this transcendence) to its essence of Real. This is the operation that is called cloning: not of transcendence by immanence, but of the relative autonomy of the former by the latter beginning from the material which is this transcendence. It is necessary to the concept and to the possibility of a DLI. This is no longer a dialectical causality, even if there is a specific causality of X in relation to its own immanence (which obviously is not at its own origin but that of the vision-in-One). This causality is possible because X-according-to-the-Real or the “base” now has the same immanent mode of being given as X-according-to-the-World, so transcendent is the latter. It has not lost its transcendence in general by losing the spontaneous sufficiency of the “superstructure” or the World, but this is insofar as it forms a specific content of the latter that exerts a causality which is merely “occasional.”

4. The specific ontic content of X is spontaneously confused with a transcendence, thus with another transcendence doubled from that of the World which would be reduced. In reality, the immanent Real “separates” X, including its transcendence, from each other by uni-lateralizing them. It is not necessary to separate X—under the pretext of immanence—between its mode of being-given and its specific content risking a new philosophical reduction of a separation between the ideal and the ontico-empirical real. The vision-in-One does not reduce the transcendence of X in the sense of reduction, but it uni-lateralizes it in a justifiably immanent way. On the one hand, X is now given via the mode of being-given-without-givenness, foreclosed to itself as transcendent and not simply as sufficient. Foreclosed however does not indicate a new operation of transcendence taking X for an object. This being-foreclosed is precisely immanent or obtained by radical immanence alone. In other words, the transcendence-World (of X) is uni-lateralized or ineffective on X in its radical mode of being-given. On the other hand, the transcendence of X is not nullified, overcome in its consistency, but it is inefficacious on the “immanent” X—this is a completely “real reduction.” Rendered inefficacious yet subsisting with X, with the content from which it forms an indivisible mélange, it does not deny the real immanence of the infrastructure, it does not limit it by dividing it, but is satisfied with still being offered to it (which has already given it) with this neutrality. What is offered is not the content (of) X separated from its transcendence, but instead the content of transcendence itself, sterilized yet given as an “object” which calls for a transcendental function of the Real or provokes its cloning. This is not the only content (of) X that would be “saved” from real immanence, initially because everything is given by the vision-in-One: then because the transcendence of X is not destroyed as such but sterilized as is. If the Real separates something in X (which must be considered as real in order to assume a DLI), this separation is a being-separated rather than a division, a being-foreclosed of X in relation to its native or extracted transcendence, its sufficiency. Consequently, this transcendence does not combine with the immanence of X, neither limits or contradicts it, but can without contradiction solicit it or squeeze a transcendental function from it, or be the material for the operation of cloning which realizes it. This is why the real One can assume a transcendental function alongside X; not alongside its spontaneous worldly transcendence (absolute or sufficient) which is nullified, but alongside its sterilized or reduced content. There is thus no contradiction in the fact that the Real as immanence assumes a transcendental function determined by X’s content of transcendence.

The uni-versality of the DLI and the Real contains an element of indifference, but not a formalism. Because they are precisely indifferent to the mixture of form and matter, they are not determinable like formalism is. Rigorously, it would be a question of an axiomatic-transcendental formalization. This indifference is their being-foreclosed to the World but is not properly speaking a formalism even if they are uni-versally equal for every object-in-the-world. It is so little a formalism that this “diagram” of non-Marxism is rather like a schema specifiable by the capital-world and supposes the support of new axioms. Non-Marxism’s act is initially being given the uni(-)versality of capitalism and that of its theory rather than attempting to acquire them step by step through the complexification of axioms.

Identically Scientific and Philosophical Theory of the DLI

After the preceding explanations, the DLI is deduced from the radical immanence of the Real alone, from the uni-versal concept of infrastructure (insofar as it is thus equivalent to the superstructure and the latter is taken into account), never from the ontic models of science or the ontological models of philosophy. The scientific and the philosophical which their DLI is capable of producing in their identity of the-last-instance are neither on the side of the One alone, being deduced as such only from it, nor on the side of the World alone and from its epistemo-logical auto-knowledge. They are no longer the scientific-of-the-last-instance on the side of separated science (la science) alone, nor the philosophical-of-the-last-instance, with which the former is radically identical, on the side of separated philosophy (la philosophy). The DLI makes it possible to bypass these antinomies which are so many philosophical divisions. There is the vision-in-One and what it receives or rather “gives” via its mode, the epistemo-logical mixture of philosophy and science in their indissoluble combinations.

The epistemo-logical mixture, if we wish to formalize it, is presented as the Other of X (X being the mixed or philosophical form; the Other being science as Other of philosophy but always included in the mixture and giving it its scope of epistemo-logical Difference). In the DLI’s operation, this given of mixture is not presented by the Real itself which lacks the means to do so. However, the vision-in-One completely presents it as One or Identity and then fulfills a transcendental role alongside its content of the Other of X. The One does not produce of itself the scientific Other which is a mixture. It no longer clones the scientific and the philosophical separately as if it isolated them within their mixture which it divided. It needs to (receive-) give the Other of X, the groundless block of the Epistemo-logos, which is not the scientific and the philosophical pure and separated, but the concrete in which they alone have existence. We will avoid making the structure of the DLI fall back on the duality of science and philosophy, which is itself nothing but a contingent material, saying for example that the vision-in-One gives the in-itself or the real immanence of X while ensuring its heterogeneity, which is thus a scientific type of relation to X; and that the transcendental cloning of X is a relation of the philosophical type of the Real to X. No doubt, we would then have a relation to X which would have no resemblance with X and which would thus be a relation of theoretical knowledge in general, a relation which is not an image of X. In fact, science and philosophy are initially given in-mixture, and the Real can only clone the latter. Since it is not the One which constitutes it, these disciplines or these two forms of knowledge cannot be effectively deduced from it or presupposed as already existing in the Real. The epistemo-logical mixture is the only material for cloning, and the clone is always clone (of) a mixture, not an abstract and separated term. The clone is thus, for this reason, the identity of a double or a mixture and here identity-of-the-last-instance of the scientific-and-the-philosophical. Because it is not especially scientific or philosophical, and because it is foreclosed to all knowledge, the vision-in-One can only clone their identity beginning from the material of the mixture which the capital-world furnishes for it.

The DLI is thus not the dialectic or the synthesis of science and philosophy supposedly separated in external and contingent relations. The Real determines the philosophical and the scientific in-the-last-instance as the “same” identity of-the-last-instance, inalienable and indeterminable by philosophy and science such as they exist in the transcendence of the capital-world. In other words, it does not acquire a scientific universal and a philosophical universal separately, but in their identity (of) mixture (rather than mixed identity). It is not possible to combine them a posteriori after their works and their life in the World. That they are universals in non-Marxism does not mean that, on the contrary, they are pure and separated. There is a universal matrix of the scientific (and) the philosophical such that they are non-separated. The DLI does not divide contraries or dialectically unite them, but unites them without-unity or unites them through-identity. This is what we call their unified Theory, here of theory and (philosophical) pragmatics. Their unitary theory in and through the capital-world supposes a double intervention by one of the parts of philosophy. When the DLI or the Real is substituted for philosophical synthesis, science and philosophy then play “an equal game,” which is only possible as their identity of-the-last-instance and not their juxtaposition. This equality, this suspension of philosophical synthesis, is thus never their separation from one another. In the identity (of the) mixture, science is liberated by itself, it escapes from the tutelage of philosophy, which does not signify that it is “finally” separated from the latter.

The complete comprehension of this mechanism supposes that the epistemo-logical mixture of science and philosophy be furnished or “decided” by the capital-world, but which, having become a real base, being immanent in-One determines its own identically theoretical (and) philosophical knowledge in-the-last-instance, a knowledge (of) self of the Epistemo-logos to the nearby last-instance of the Real. X is not an unspecified existent, but concretely the capital-world form which contains a program for the knowledge and usage of the existent. It is thus universal capitalism which, seen-in-One or in-infrastructure (the equivalent of its historical-materialist interpretation, the possibility of its immanent radical being), must assume the function of real immanent base which determines its knowledge or its theory in-the-last-instance (under the form, we will say, of the force (of) thought or of the Stranger, a more radical, more universal concept of the proletariat). Because of its status as independent base of its material, of science as well as philosophy, it determines an intrinsic identity, without domination, beginning from the latter. There is no longer a reversal of philosophical primacy by science. Science and philosophy can only be equal in-the-last-instance and insofar as the Real is foreclosed to the one and the other. The Real is not their commonality, by analogy or ontological univocity, but is their identity of-the-last-instance. It is non-philosophy and non-science, but the knowledge to which it gives rise or which it determines is the non-philosophy-of-science in the sense that the philosophy-of-science, the Epistemo-logos, has lost its synthetic capacity. Science can only be liberated from philosophical authority, but not from philosophy, related with the latter under non-philosophical conditions of the givenness of the Real.

The DLI is not only one of the essential objects of non-Marxist “theory,” but also the causality of the Real: not on this theory, but on the epistemo-logical mixture, and cause of the constitution of this theory beginning from this mixture. Non-Marxist theory is no longer suspended by a particular philosophy, it no longer considers the DLI in exteriority but complies with the latter as with the causality which produces or determines it, and it is even its exercise.

Thus deployed in its concept and its usage, the DLI seems like the real core of the materialist dialectic, at least the identity of the DLI and the dialectic. Marxism remains divided in the dyad of HM (–> DLI) and DM (–> philosophy), interpreted in a premature manner, as we have seen, as that of science and philosophy. It is necessary, rather than to complexify it in the results of theoretical intercessions, which only multiply the divisions, to deprive it of the useless postulate of philosophy as unifying synthesis supposedly constituent, and not only of “expressive totality” (Althusser) charged with ensuring the mediation of Marxism and the Real, the concrete grasp of the former on the latter.

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4 thoughts on “Chapter 3 of Laruelle’s Introduction to Non-Marxism: Determination-in-the-Last-Instance (DLI)

  1. What a gift! It is an absolute shame that PUF has let this run out-of-print already. It is nearly impossible to get. Last time I was in Paris I looked everywhere for a copy and found none. How did you come across it?

  2. Yeah, this is fantastic Taylor! Thanks!

    Anthony – there’s some PDFs floating about the internet of Laruelle’s work in French. Taylor has a number of them, and I have a bunch myself, so just email us if you want some copies!

  3. I also have a good connection with inter-library loan, even though the French books sometimes have to go very far for me to get them (the ’94 anthology of essays on Gilbert Simondon containing Laruelle’s essay on first technology came from Brigham Young–one of the only places that has it on loan!). Thanks for the comments, and just to let you know, I’ve touched up the translation a good bit, so hopefully it reads a little better. Having said that, I am really trying to take notes on this piece and his essay on Kant. Nick, I will try to start portioning the subjects chapter because it’s quite lengthy. I’ll probably break it into 5 6-page installments. 15 pages may be a little long to read online!

  4. Pingback: Laruelle Bibliography (English & French) | Linguistic Capital

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