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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Five definitions related to the force (of) thought


Collection of non-autopositional universes obtained by the reiteration of a universal pragmatics to a material of philosophical and regional terms; open list of non-conceptual symbols obtained beginning from a list of philosophical concepts.

This expression does not exist in philosophy but could here designate a negative or suspended moment in the economy of a dictionary, dialectic or differential economy, etc.

A non-dictionary is produced from a pragmatics beginning with the vision-in-One and its ordination of conceptual philosophical—indeed philosophizable—material (regional terms). To the unitary philosophical autosufficiency it opposes the sufficiency-to-the-Multiple of the One real rather than the multiplicity of philosophical and semantic decisions. Whereas philosophical dictionaries constitute an inventory, in the name of unity, of the multiple opinions in the subject of a presupposed-Being or (psychoanalytic variant) of a supposed-Other, a non-dictionary—without another supposition—translates the real multiplicity inherent to the force (of) thought beginning from an empirical plurality of concepts. The force (of) thought manifests the repertory terms as so many non-unitary universes.

Force (of) thought (existing-subject-stranger)

Organon or means through which the One can enact or possess a causality without being alienated in the material of its action. Instance which is not real like the One but produced through cloning. Transcendental and aprioritic, it has its real essence in the One without adding or subtracting anything to the Real itself which determines it in-the-last-instance to a local occasion.

Marxism recognizes an equivalent concept which it places at the foundation of historical Materialism: labor power [la force de travail]. This is an energetic concept of human energy which only exists in the personality of the worker and which is irreducible to his functions or operations, to work output or expended. This concept is necessary so as to transform the object of work into exchange value and is thus creative of value. According to the plan of the Marxist systematic, it articulates the Marxian ontology of the individual and the theory of capitalism. Nietzsche and Deleuze propose an idea of thought as a symptom of forces, establishing its cause in a differential play of multiple forces rather than in a Real-of-the-last-instance.

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Ten Definitions from Laruelle’s Dictionnaire de la Non-Philosophie

Transcendental Axiomatic

The nature and procedure of the formation of the primary terms of non-philosophy, of its non-conceptual symbols, starting from philosophical concepts concerned with philosophical intuitiveness and naïveté.

Axiomatics is initially a scientific object. It is the organization of a theory or a fragment of a theory in order to empty the terms of their empirical or regional contents and to explicitly reveal the logical apparatus which connects them and becomes through this their only contents. There is a philosophical reflection on the axiomatic (Aristotle), but there are few examples of axiomatization in philosophy itself, if not perhaps in Descartes’ Responses, Spinoza’s Ethics and Fichte’s Science of Knowledge. In all these cases it is a matter of an ontological axiomatization, still largely intuitive. In the sciences, more or less complete attempts at axiomatization were made in particular by Hilbert in geometry, by Jean-Louis Destouches in quantum physics—i.e. above all in fields where unexpected innovations (non-Euclidean geometries, Heisenberg’s ‘uncertainty’ principle) required theoretical reorganization to legitimate their rigor. The epistemology of Mario Bunge draws conclusions from the postulate that it is in theory possible to axiomatize any scientific discipline. But axiomatization is an effort of reorganization which comes with the aftermath—even after a crisis—in the goal of examining the validity of a theory and the formalization of its relations to other theories which, in any event, has known limits (Godel). It is more a theoretical instrument than a theoretical project of the foundation of science.

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