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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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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Laruelle’s Essay on Simondon: “The Concept of a ‘First Technology'”

Laruelle, François. “Le concept d’une ‘technologie première’” in Gilbert Simondon: une pensée de l’individituation et la technique. Paris: Albin Michel, 1994. 206-219.

The Concept of a “First Technology”

François Laruelle

A “Unified Theory” of Technics and Technology

In order to define the object of which we speak and to set its limits in our discourse; also in order to define a certain relation to the work of Simondon or Heidegger—the two greatest philosophers of technics—we will make two distinctions whose relevance or irrelevance will be demonstrated by their capacity or incapacity to “found” a new discipline called “first technology.” This distinction is expressed in the following way: a science, rather than a philosophy or a “human science”, of technics, but a science of the essence of technics, not of technical properties or facts. Thus our object in the constitution of Simondon and Heidegger’s works will participate according to a relation to be determined whose formulation testifies to a paradoxical nature: a true science, not a philosophy; but a new type of transcendental science of essence, not a science of facts, whether it be “ontic” or “positive.” Essence is philosophy’s traditional object and that through which philosophy claims to be distinguished from science: how could the latter, while still remaining science, take on an essence as its object?


We think that the means of resolving the most general antinomy, that of science and philosophy, exists beyond philosophy either as epistemology or as positivism (=science of philosophy), and that it must be sought beyond the invariant means of ontology, but not outside a dimension of thought and experience which philosophy itself has always postulated without ever recognizing it as such and completely denying its role in science. It is no longer a question of Being, but of the One insofar as it refuses any convertibility with Being and therefore must be called “One-of-the-last-instance” so as to render it inalienable in Being. We will return to this point. What meaning can it then have for this antinomy, partially derived from the precedent of technics and technology? Can the principles of a unified and not unitary (=philosophical, i.e. hierarchical) theory be established based on the technical and the technological? This new discipline, “founded” in the non-philosophical experience of the One, would require a double support. It would require the support of technology, i.e. the support of a philosophical type of knowledge of technics, of the logos qua techno-logos, and consequently the dimension of essence. And it would also require the support of science insofar as the latter is the gauge of an objective, rigorous, analytic, and non-interpretative treatment of technical objects and properties, a treatment which we will in fact call “technics,” but only with the reservation of this treatment, thus distinguishing this usage of the word “technics” from its philosophical or technological usage. We can therefore define the object of this unified theory—if it is possible: for knowledge, it will have to set off again from the One—no longer as the banal and philosophical essence of technics (which supposes given or supposedly given objects as technical as well as their intentional telos under the philosophical horizon of essence as eidos) but as the Essence (of) technics, a writing designed to indicate an indivisible block, a strict and no longer philosophical or hierarchical identity of technics and essence. This “strict” identity obviously remains to be thought and to be known both with the help of the One and with the assistance of technological discourses; but we can always posit it as our object.

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Laruelle’s “Reflections on the Meaning of Finitude in the Critique of Pure Reason”

Laruelle, Francois. “Reflections sur la sens de la finitude dans la Critique de la Raison Pure.” Revue International de Philosophie 35 (1981): 269-83.

Reflections on the Meaning of Finitude in the Critique of Pure Reason

François Laruelle

“Finitude” designates human knowledge’s positive nature of not creating its object which it nevertheless determines as object, of having to receive it so as to determine it. The Critique of Pure Reason modifies the theological problematic of finitude which, in the classical age, instead designates man’s being created, transposing it into the problematic of the intuitive relation of repraesentatio to the object and in fact the powerlessness of man to create the latter. We must make three preliminary yet essential distinctions. Finitude primarily and essentially is said of (human) intuition and secondarily, not essentially, of the imagination, the understanding and reason which are simultaneously finite and infinite. Furthermore, we must distinguish the finitude of intuition and its infinite (synthetic) condition in intuition: finally, we must distinguish these limited places [1] of finitude in accordance with certain parts of the Critique, simultaneously in accordance with the faculties and relations of one space of “form” to another—in accordance with finitude as the general principle of interpretation which is then globally opposed to an interpretation which would take for its guiding-thread the rise of Reflection throughout the Critique towards the highest instance of rational determination, the infinite and ideal. The first supposes that Reason can be liberated from the bondage of its initial finitude in “sensible” intuition, the second supposes this liberation without, however, its bonds with receptivity being fully broken.


We often oppose the Heideggerian and idealist (Hegelian or neo-Kantian) interpretations of these problems. On one side, finitude as irreducible and unsurpassable becomes the principle interpretation of Reason itself as pure finite Reason. On the other, finitude is simply an initial, limited and surpassed moment, either of the pure Idea, or of the transcendental reflection of infinite Reason. And it is true from the one to the other, from the directing primacy of Intuition to that of Reason and its ends, from the primacy of reception to that of phenomenal, then intelligible determination, from the primacy of sensibility to that of the intelligible (the universal moral Law in the solution to the third antinomy), there is seemingly a reciprocal reversal of perspectives which are rendered irreconcilable, thus changing their particular sense (that of sensibility to the understanding) and their critical value (their relation to the Whole or to the architectonic of the Critique). The adversaries themselves are bound to be carried away in these somewhat excessive debates and in oppositions which are all too often unilateral. Finitude becomes a problem, acquiring sense and value, when the preliminary or prefatory position of the texts which indicate and program it are recognized. Like any threshold, finitude can also be crossed “unproblematically” since it leads to the tabernacle of the moral Law, which detains its visitors in its folds indefinitely. Hence the two necessary interpretations mentioned above. This essay endeavors to rediscover their co-belonging and to stop opposing what the threshold itself never opposes: the simple indication or transition, and the program.

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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).
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Non-Psychoanalysis pt. 1 – Drive and the Unconscious

The notion of Drive is one of the more heavily abused concepts of psychoanalysis while simultaneously one of it’s most extracted (save mirror stage induced alienation). Laruelle adopts Drive in relation to his vaunted force-of-thought and states that it is the “Other name for the force (of) thought as organon of the One and for its action of a pragmatic nature on the World or philosophy-material.” This needs to be dissected. For Laruelle, the force-of-thought is the instance of thought prior to the mediation of philosophy – it is the instance of thought prior to its fetishization via various noetic paradigms. The One, or vision-in-one, or the Real, is the given without givenness as such, which is experienced as a pure immanence. This Real cannot be thought of but along with or according to and hence Drive is taken by Laruelle as the force of this One in the World.

Laruelle diverges from Lacan when he states: “This drive is deprived of negativity or representativity and ignores the play of forces as well as the functions which engage in transcendence or in the logico-real order.” Here we see the implicit articulation of drive in Brassier’s Nihil Unbound, that is, the Drive functioning according to the axis of iteration and not the axis of alteration.

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God-without-Being: definition by An und für sich

For another definition to Laruelle’s dictionary, check out An und für sich’s definition here. Keep it up, and thanks for sending me the missing pages in advance!

By the way, these definitions are an excellent practice in translation techniques and just fun in general, so I encourage everyone who might enjoy it to try their hand at more. At the moment, I may take a break from the dictionary for a short while to focus on Laruelle’s essay “Reflections on the Meaning of Finitude in the Critique of Pure Reason.” It’s only about 14 pages in the French, so I think it should be finished by next week. There is also a Heidegger essay that I’d love to get my hands on….I think both these sorts of translations along with selections from En tant qu’un (non-philosophy explained to philosophers) would go a really long way in making Laruelle’s thought a little less strange (and hostile? perhaps…) to more traditionally oriented philosophers.

Anthony, if you have the latter, you should try your hand at that too…the presentations at the beginning are all around 5 pages…not much more than a definition. Its economy is restrained in a much different way too…

Five definitions related to Non-psychoanalysis

Auto-Position

The highest formal act of the philosophical Decision through which philosophical faith in the real allows the latter to be posited as the Real in an illusory way. It is consequently the real cause of the appearance of philosophy. The auto-position as real of the transcendental Unity proper to philosophy is that which prioritizes the vision-in-One.

The formal trait of auto-position is structural and completely exceeds the presence of this concept in Fichte (Self=Self). Not only the transcendental One—the peak of philosophical knowledge—but whichever concept (cf. Deleuze) is itself posited or is in a state of pairing, doubling, self-survey…Philosophizing is concentrated in the inasmuch and the as [l’en tant que et le comme], in the repetition of a more or less differentiated Same. This trait forms a system with philosophy’s no less structural debt to perception as its point of departure and to transcending it as its essential organon. Object and objectivity, phenomenological self and disinterested and philosophical self, consciousness of object and self-consciousness, transcendent One and transcendental One, all philosophy repeats itself because it copies itself. This is the activity of philosophical faith and this faith itself.
Nothing but pure heresy

Pure heresy

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