Laruelle’s Definitions on Thought, Science, the Real, Priority, and Primacy

Thought (Continent of Thought)

Uni-versalized concept, identically equivalent for philosophical thought and scientific knowledge. Thought is in this sense that which is determined-in-the-last-instance or cloned from these two disciplines.

  • The relations of thought and the real are given by the Parmenidian matrix: “Being and Thinking are the Same.” Thought and Being are in a relation of reciprocal dominance. Their identity can thus take on several forms: from the supposedly adequate correspondence of perception and object up to the identity of self-consciousness and consciousness of the object; the subjective “reflection” and objective reflection, dialectical identity of the real and the rational, but always in the respect of this co-respondance. Broken under the form of a (co-)respondance of a response-listening to Being (Heidegger), or a difference, a thought-in-the-trace (Derrida), this adequation subsists as one of the major presuppositions–one of the halves–of deconstructions and one of the most inherent criteria of the philosophical style.

First science introduces another “experience of thought”–this is its object–under the form of a triple innovation. 1) From the point of view of its origin: it abandons the Parmenidian matrix and breaks every a priori and non-a posteriori correspondence of thought to the Real. Instead of thought being supposed to co-determine the Real as Being, it is the Real–but as One–that determines it more than unilaterally or without reversibility (without reflection under some unspecified form of the one in the other): by foreclosure. This is the formula of their relations: “the One and thought, or the One and Being, are identical but only in-the-last-instance.” Thought can thus only hope to change itself according to the Real-One rather than changing the Real. 2) From the point of view of its nature: first science distinguishes its cause and its specific operations; on the one hand, the vision-in-One, the immanent lived experience proper to the One alone which responds to a third type of experience, of “knowing” or of manifestation which is neither Consciousness nor Reflection, neither the Unconscious or some unspecified logico-natural procedure, but that which can only call itself Given-without-givenness or Manifest-without-manifestation, etc.; on the other hand, its specific mechanisms which are no longer philosophical operations (reflection, dialectic, difference, etc.) or psychoanalytic (condensation, displacement, etc.) but the henceforth transcendental operations of induction and deduction. 3) From the point of view of its “subject” and its extension: a thought-science in the fullest sense of the term is finally recognized against the impoverishment of thought through which philosophy would affect the latter. Real thought in-the-last-instance by its cause: thinking by its practical immanence, somewhat deprived of all reflexivity or consciousness; rigorous by its non-circular operations, somewhat effective upon the natural language of philosophy.


Other name for philosophy in the broadest non-philosophical comprehension of its concept. Thought-world is any thought founded upon the principal resource of transcendence and the secondary resource (by right or in fact) of immanence–over their hierarchized mixture.

  • Philosophy has always involved the narrowest relations with the World, primarily as thought positing cosmic order or cosmopolitical order: hence its more properly physical, indeed physicalist interest for the “World” (Descartes for example) or metaphysical for the origin of the World and its antinomies (Kant); or phenemenological for the “World-of-life,” Heidegger has believed this Greco-philosophical theme and the Christian theme of the “World” and its wisdom-madness in the elucidation of being-in-world to be the basic structure of Dasein.

If the World belongs to the ultimate concept of philosophy, non-philosophy radicalizes this belonging by deciding to call philosophy the thought-world in its identity, i.e. every thought that uses transcending as its principal operation or that simply has recourse to it so as to constitute the Real, including the so-called “philosophies of immanence”–Spinoza, Nietzsche, Deleuze–who still have recourse to the transcendence through which they ground an overly limited concept and which they believe to have wrongly eliminated. It more narrowly binds the World and philosophy by making the latter in some way the general form of the former which, in this manner, is no longer defined by its content of existents. And it is this thought-world with its congenital empiricism and its powerless desire of the One that it gives as unique object to the vision-in-One.  The thought-world then auto-presents itself under several distinct but continuously linked forms (philosophical faith: transcendence as a priori essence of the latter). All in all, non-philosophy posits not co-belonging but the identity-of-the-last-instance of philosophy and the World (of experience) under a form that definitively limits the former to the latter and more narrowly ties the fundamental and the regional together without contingency.

Thought-Science (Unified Theory of Thought)

A unified theory of thought is the first objective of non-philosophy consequently understood as first science. Its field of properties is philosophy-as-metascience (epistemology, philosophy of the sciences, etc.); its specific object is thought as identity-in-the-last-instance of science and philosophy. Only a theory rather than a new philosophy thus introduces democracy into thought itself.

  • Philosophy spontaneously presents itself as a thought rather than a theory, a thought distinct from knowledge or on the contrary coordinated with it–as a thought of thought. Its telos is thus the autoposition of thought as being or determining the Real. It is the only claimant to this privilege which it exerts in an ultimate way through empirical materials via autoreflection or autoposition. If the Same is Thinking and Being, thought can simultaneously be a term opposed to Being and the superior synthetic form of their opposition. Philosophical thought is the complement or the supplement, but also the enveloping recollection of all experiences, science included, thus the absolute thought (Ge-danke). In its structure, philosophy is thought-without-knowledge that needs science’s knowledge-without-thought–it is a double structure of division or lack. We call unitary, indeed “unitary theory of thought,” this self-division and setting-in-hierachy of science and philosophy. The unitary motivations of certain sciences or even the empiricist Idea of a “unified Encyclopedia of the sciences” through a common logical language (Vienna Circle) are projections or avatars of the unitary style. Conversely, what philosophy fetishizes under the term “thought” are always unstable mixtures of philosophy and science (Idea, Concept, Act, Reason, etc.).

By determining the mixtures of philosophy and science as material and occasion, first Science, the initial realization of non-philosophy, proposes not to separate a pure thought from science or to elevate science to the state of a new thought, but to produce the emergence of a new entity, thought-science, which will have for its object–this is another way of saying it–the thought-world or this mixture. It must guide under the form not of their synthesis but of their identity-of-the-last-instance, a theory through which thought-science relates itself to its mixture form like a science to its object and identically like a philosophy relates itself to its object. It therefore constitutes this mixture of the thought-world, of “thought” and “knowledge” in a new “scientific continent,” scientific yet transcendental, unified for every saying according-to-the-Real. It sets and end to philosophy’s pretention to hierarchical domination over science and to the perpetual scientific revolution in “thought.”

Such a thought-science does not yet exist and only knows of the attempts of Marx and Freud, and Lacan, for example. But the thought-world is the (non-philosophical) symptom and occasion of thought-science. At each time and on each side, science and philosophy are inseparable  via the more or less compact modes. When this inseparability is simply that of a philosophical connection, science is dispersed and reified in knowledges isolated and requisitioned for their external ends, philosophy in antagonistic decisions. When it is more compacted, more-than-connected or bound, science and philosophy, from the point of view of their objects and that of their specific procedures, fuse together in a common matrix, or more precisely in a matrix unified-in-the-last-instance by the Real: the force (of) thought. The emergence of this utopia is the objective of non-philosophy beyond measures with a new alliance of science and philosophy somewhat on behalf of one, somewhat on behalf of the other.

Primacy (Primacy-without-Priority)

Characteristic of the One-in-One of inalienable being, or of the Real being foreclosed to thought, yet  able to determine the latter. Primacy understood as determination-in-the-last-instance dismantles the philosophical mixture proper to to the principles of primacy and priority, their power-in-domination or ontological primacy. Primacy-without-priority precisely determines thought (as force (of) thought) to be primary in relation to philosophical material.

  • Ontology and metaphysics attribute a mixture of primacy and priority, of power and originarity in “first causes” and in “first principles” (Heidegger included: the ontico-ontological primacy of Dasein). Primacy is not without being primary, priority without participating in the primacy of principles, it is the manifestation of the philosophical circle and hierarchy within the heart of metaphysics itself. This trait subsists in every philosophy whatsoever insofar as it is structured as a metaphysics and insofar as it receives a secret politics in this structure. Mao and then Althusser’s de-Hegelianized dialectic has exploited this logic of primacy and domination in the theory of contradiction as “dominant structure” and primacy of practice over theory, of the dialectic over materialism (or the other way around).

The radicalization of the One-in-One posited as non-ontological ground of thought subtracts it from the transcendental characteristics of Being, in particular from the spirit of hierarchical domination and the priority of principles–from their commandment and their commencement. The Real cannot be primary–lest it be submitted to an order more powerful than it. It subtracts itself from this order for reasons of radical being-separated and being-foreclosed rather than for reasons of super-ontology or super-essential domination surpassing Being itself. Thus simultaneously de-politicized and de-ontologized, the Real can still be said to harbor a primacy-without-domination insofar as it determines–but precisely in-the-last-instance alone–not an object but another cause called “occasional.” The “presupposed real” is thus deprived of every ontological power and sets an end to philosophy’s specific desire-of-hierarchy. On the other hand, this being-foreclosed, foreign to every philosophical politics, is capable of determining thought: no longer by a mastery using a form or an information, but by a cloning or transmission of radical identity to a material prepared to receive it and in turn divested of its original will of domination. The specific primacy of the “last-instance” thus extracts as “unilateral duality” the real nucleus of the contradiction as structure from primacy. It liberates a radical democracy or a non-politics that transforms the politics-world which philosophy is by submitting it to a “minimally” and strictly human pragmatics, in some fashion without principles or “an-archic,” but without contenting itself in deconstructing the supposedly relevant power of philosophy.

Priority (Priority-without-Primacy)

Characteristic of the force (of) thought of as primary, actually and performatively “radical commencement.” Transcendentally primary in relation to philosophical material, precisely as ordered in the primacy of the real-One and itself deprived of any primacy of the philosophical type (mastery or domination).

  • Priority, joined together with primacy, is characteristic of “first” principles and cause of metaphysics. “First philosophy” is first somewhat by its objects themselves (Aristotle), somewhat by the order it establishes in knowledge (Descartes), somewhat by the mode of obvious givenness of its objects (Husserl), but this priority is marked also by ontological dignity. “Ontico-ontological primacy” could also under certain conditions be called “ontico-ontological priority.” This ideal emerges with Descartes and above all with Husserl on the urgency of a “radical commencement.” But the divided or mixed structure of priority-primacy ensures that philosophical priority neither priority nor commencement. Hence a delay installed in the transcendental commencement, a powerlessness in the radicality of the origin, consequently the philosophies that attempt to register this failure as positive and that “commence” through difference, milieu, becoming-as-origin (Nietzsche, Deleuze) or through differance, deference, and supplement (Derrida).

If thought–as fetishized philosophical object–can not be first without also being second and delayed, at least postponed, if the “radical commencement” is a myth or a constituting philosophical fantasm, the “force (of) thought” cloned by the vision-on-One on the basis of philosophical material is necessarily undivided in its essence and consequently radically primary (but without-primacy). The commencement is nothing but commencement and radical if it is that of a performational thought which does not divide itself even when it makes use of division or distance. The force (of) thought does not know of deference, delay, differ(a)nce, or supplement to the origin, because nothing separates or divides it from its “real presupposed,” the One, in the primacy through which it is ordered but which itself is not primary or “anterior” to thought or proto-originary in some way. The force (of) thought–or the Stranger–comport themselves “with” philosophy and are turned towards it. The radical commencement is the same thing as the powerlessness of the force (of) thought to turn itself around towards its “origin” or towards the Real, being turned by definition towards the thought-world. It is every post-modern philosophy and its style of deviation, of difference, just like every modern philosophy and its fantasm of the identity-of-the-origin, that is invalidated when radical identity ceases being original and becomes cause-of-the-last-instance.

Real (One-in-One, Vision-in-One)

Instance defined by its radical immanence under all possible conditions of thought: thus by its being-given (of) itself, yet called Vision-in-One or One-in-One, and by its being-foreclosed to thought. The Real is neither capable of being known or even “thought,” but described in axioms. On the other hand, it determines-in-the-last-instance thought as non-philosophical.

  • There is no notion vaguer and more “ideological,” also more “modern,” than that of the “real,” if it is not that of “thought.” Every philosopher wants by definition to “think the real,” even the most convicted idealist. Its indetermination and its overdetermination nevertheless find certain (generative and critical) limits in Parmenides’ initial equation: “Being and Thinking are the Same,” thus in its “etymological” origins (res) determining the field of its possible variations. The latter are as various as philosophical decisions, but each one requires the primacy and the priority of the real (substance and its treatments, being, spirit, will to power, faith, sense, moral law, etc.) in relation to which the other instances of the philosophical decision are distributed and hierarchized. That the real lays claim to a primacy-and-priority implies that it is inscribed in the element of transcendence and exteriority (immanence being one of its secondary properties, even in the so-called “philosophies of immanence”: (Spinoza, Nietzsche, Deleuze), and that it is reciprocally determined–in an operation, a negation, a difference, etc.–with thought. The philosophical real is at best repressed because it is a desired real, cloven by transcendence. The philosophy of the 20th century in the opening of the “Judaic turn” has innovated by ceasing to identify with the Same and/or with Being so as to identify with the Other. It has contributed to dislocating the philosophical Decision without suspending its authority.

In virtue of its usage of philosophy as its “occasional cause,” non-philosophy recourses to the “Real” as non-conceptual first term. It conserves its primacy without priority, thus a non-metaphysical primacy over thought, the primacy of an only-in-the-last-instance determination that respects the relative autonomy of thought, which can on the other hand be called “primary” or transcendental. Non-philosophy is only a primary thought because it lacks effect over the Real henceforth called radical immanence or identity through and through. No ontic or ontological content, not even feeling, affectivity, or life, can serve to define the essence of the One, lest it introduce a hidden transcendence into it. Even “immanence” only serves to name the Real which tolerates nothing but axiomatic descriptions or formulations. Its function does not exceed that of first term having a primacy over others. It cannot be a question of a simple formal symbol, precisely because axiomatics is, if not in the Real, at least in-Real or according-to-the-Real and thus operates only via a transcendental mode.

Non-philosophy interrupts for itself the philosophical path of the real, identified with various instances during the course of its history (existent, ousia, being, one, substance, concept, multiplicity, etc., and finally Other through various modes). This is a particular interruption which does not consist in radicalizing its transcendence in an exacerbated neo-Platonic lineage or in a Lacanian lineage (as the impossible of the symbolic, hole of the signifier, etc.), lest it claim to exceed philosophy by an ultimate philosophical means, but consists in radicalizing the bit of immanence the tradition has accorded to philosophical thought, to the point of no longer claiming even to “attach” it once and for all, to the point of axiomatizing it as being-foreclosed. One-in-One as well as outside-being, outside-representation, outside-possibility, it enables transforming the philosophical (Marx) and psychoanalytic (Lacan) discourse on the real into a particularly “indicative” and fruitful symptom of an emergent experience of thought emerging beyond philosophical possibilities.

Transcendental Science

Other name of non-philosophy in its form of unified theory of science and philosophy or first Science.

  • Transcendental philosophy aspires to constitute itself into a transcendental science (into a transcendental logic variously associated with an intuition and experience–Kant, Husserl). Science here fulfills a philosophical goal that conserves its primacy. The former supports theoretical knowledges or forms, the latter fulfills the immanent or transcendental dimension of the relation of truth to experience or to the World. Philosophy pursues its scientific dream through transcendental science: to become a rigorous science in the critique of metaphysics (Kant) or in the foundation of the positive sciences (Husserl).

Transcendental science in its non-philosophical realization as first science can be characterized 1) by its material: the scientific forms of theory or even particular scientific theories and the philosophical forms of thought or the philosophical Decision; 2) by its unifying-without-synthesis cause, the vision-in-One rather than the structure of the philosophical Decision; 3) by its “method,” which is the unification of-the-last-instance, of scientific or theoretical explanation irreducible to the explained properties of its objects and of the philosophical or transcendental relation to these objects; 4) by its internal object: on the one hand, on the side of the vision-in-One or the Real, the subject of this transcendental science, cloned transcendental subject, motivated but not co-determined by the objects of experience; on the other hand, on the side of the latter or the material, this material’s sense (of) identity (and its modalities) such that it is lived by the subject, i.e. the Essence (of) science, which is not the existence of “science” but the essence of the philosophy-science mixture.

Transcendental science in its philosophical version is of metaphysical origin (its cause is Being, the transcendental here has the primacy of the Real): of unitary (it is the mixture of science and philosophy) and inegalitarian (it is hierarchy, domination of the latter over the former) spirit. In its non-philosophical version, it is real before being transcendental (its cause is the vision-in-One); of “unified” (it is the identity-in-the-last-instance of science and philosophy, or thought-science) and egalitarian (science and philosophy intervene here equally and in-identity) spirit. It is the “combination” of the Real’s primacy under the form of the “determination-in-the-last-instance”; of the priority of thought-science under the form of transcendental commencement or first transcendental; finally, of specific scientific urgency under the form of theoretical explanation as non-image, non-representation of the object to be explained.

1 thought on “Laruelle’s Definitions on Thought, Science, the Real, Priority, and Primacy

  1. Pingback: Quelques définitions de François Laruelle : Speculative heresy | Autrement qu'être Mathesis uni∜ersalis Problema Universale Heidegger/Husserl être/conscience : plan vital-ontologique vs plan spirituel d'immanence CLAVIS UNIVERSALIS HENOSOP

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