Translation of F. Laruelle’s “Toward an Active Linguistics”

I apologize in advance for the many bracketing of the French, but this was only to render the distinctions between langue and langage clear (as well as pouvoir and puissance). Furthermore, all the footnotes are mine, and I have included them to provide as much context and added scholarly value, so to speak, as possible. -TA

Laruelle, F. “Pour une linguistique active (la notion de phonèse)”, Revue philosophique de la France et de l’étranger Vol. 168 Issue 4 (Oct.-Dec. 1978): 419-431.

Toward an Active Linguistics (The Notion of Phonesis)

By François Laruelle

 “When one has demonstrated that a thing is of the highest utility, one has however thereby taken not one step towards explaining its origin: that is to say, one can never employ utility to make it comprehensible that a thing must necessarily exist”.[1]

This axiom is not Spinoza’s, but Nietzsche’s (Daybreak, #37). If we introduce a Spinozist (i.e. anti-Cartesian) point of view into linguistics, what will be our estimation of man? Will we impose on science’s serenity the requirements of an Ethics and the point of view of the active passions? How does one speak of God’s enjoying? How does one make of linguistics a science of beatitude in the subject?

The idea of an active linguistics

An era is fading away under our steps, that era in which antihumanism served as the sigil if not for linguistics, then at least for the philosophical usages of linguistics. We are now free to pose our problem otherwise, to add complements and nuances to it, to differentiate this antihumanism. For quite a while it’s been a misunderstanding, both in linguistics and outside. A principle was made of antihumanism, whereas it’s perhaps nothing but an effect; it was made into a project, whereas it was just the index of other deeper critiques and surely the symptom (but it became automatic) of a change of terrain in the manner of apprehending the phenomena of language. Taken in its sense and its ambitions, this structural mutation should be a “break”, but too often it functions less as a veritable displacement than as a simple “revolution”, i.e. a reversal that returns on the spot and passes through the same positions. It leads to refusals that we esteem as fully and completely inefficacious. Furthermore, on this terrain certain rectifications have been set in motion, more or less explicitly (by Althusser, Lacan, Foucault). It suffices to extend this line of new deeds to define the limits that antihumanism may not surpass in order to remain what it is. For, on the one hand it’s a method, or, if you will, merely a procedure and a strategy devoted to the determination of certain critical effects against classical anthropological presuppositions; on the other hand, it’s a tendency that can receive new theoretical forms and new instruments, pass through non-structural mutations and become in these forms a guiding thread for a new examination of language’s phenomena, i.e. the project of an “active linguistics” that we shall outline below. What are these limits?

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Translation of F. Laruelle’s Introduction to “Textual Machines”

The following is a translation of F. Laruelle’s Introduction to Machines textuelles (Pais: Seuil, 1976), pp. 9-19, by Taylor Adkins, 9/1/13.

Introduction to Textual Machines: Deconstruction and Libido of Writing

            The text, well, it doesn’t send word [s’envoie pas dire], but one can always say [dire] something about it.

Thus I am attempting to simultaneously guide an analysis of deconstruction’s techniques and a displacement of their problematics onto neighboring positions, about which I’m hoping that their neighborhood, in order to have some relation to topology, is neither good nor bad.

Which positions? Those which are implicated, not manifestly but latently, in “Nietzsche-thought”, or in the esoteric problematics of the Eternal return and the Will to power, which I shall call generalized repetition and intensive libido respectively. At the risk of seeming to elicit deconstruction’s virulence and facing the perils of an ideological regression, I am attempting to relate deconstruction to a principle of functionality a) that transforms it into a libidinal process of textual production; b) that pretends[1] to reprise, even activate, effects-of-deconstruction on its behalf.

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Translation of F. Laruelle’s “The Transcendental Computer: A Non-Philosophical Utopia”

The following is a revision and correction of a preliminary draft drawn up by my friend Chris Eby several years ago. Since he undertook the task for the sheer pleasure of it, it’s state on Scribd cried out for a new edition. I have taken the liberty of reworking the essay in its entirety, so now all problems with the translation rest on my shoulders!

The Transcendental Computer

A Non-Philosophical Utopia[1]





Translated by Taylor Adkins and Chris Eby

The unified theory of thought and computing [calcul][2], a unification in-the-last-identity, is a task facing every encyclopedic mind (Morin, Serres). It is also the theme of the transcendental computer (TC), of a machine that would have a transcendental relation to philosophy in its entirety and would therefore be able to compute-think the blendings of thought and computing according to a “unified” mode, such as, for example, a transcendental arithmetic like Platonism or any other combination of these prevalent terms in philosophy and computing. Beforehand, a prejudicial question concerning the degree of non-philosophy’s automaticity should be dealt with. In this sense, what follows is an attempt at the limits of the theme of a transcendental computer.

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Translation of Laruelle’s “The Concept of Generalized Analysis or of ‘Non-Analysis'”

Laruelle, François. “La concept d’analyse generalisée ou de ‘non-analyse’”, Revue internationale de philosophie, vol. 43, no. 171, issue 4 (1989), p. 506-524.

The Concept of Generalized Analysis or of ‘Non-Analysis’

Philosophy’s Judaic Turn

            The undoing of philosophy by psychoanalysis seems to animate and traverse the recent history of the former more so than the latter. This is at least how it appears. It is impossible to give a list of the avatars of continental philosophy of this century without taking this struggle as our guiding thread. Primarily a secret struggle—wherein the adversaries are sought out (to the point of excluding Lacan)—then manifested and claimed as such—wherein the adversaries are recognized and in turn take on the role of enforcing the peace. From this point of view, the parties appear more and more equal. Between philosophy and psychoanalysis, it is not a question of a banal combat of positivist mastery or even of a unilaterally philosophical attempt (merely of appropriation, and merely reflexive and hermeneutic, even if this case is produced and represents a spontaneous solution), but of a conflict waged that is sometimes stronger than the adversaries themselves, of a difference that relates them to one another in the greatest distance and through a strategy of reciprocal appropriation and disappropriation (variously balanced according to the authors). This would be a unilateral and already too philosophical interpretation, like that of seeing philosophy alone leading an enterprise of conquest without nuances, and it is not always inversely psychoanalysis that brings with it the charge of alterity, of critique, and perhaps the most powerful deconstruction. The necessity and nature of this combat (superior to the parties in question) are precisely what determine the crossed becomings and command philosophy’s offensive, and not merely defensive, actions. Its most recent history, although non-hermeneutic, is that of the most enduring blows that it has attempted to launch: The History of Sexuality (Foucault), Anti-Oedipus (Deleuze and Guattari), The Postal Card (Derrida) and finally The Genealogy of Psychoanalysis (Henry) manifest an offensive will where philosophy also allows itself, as in every great combat, to be determined by the adversary. In reality this manner, this style of difference, i.e. of struggle with the angel of analysis, a struggle recognized as infinite and taking its nobility from its incapacity to conclude, began at least with Kojéve and Wittgenstein.[1]

It is useless to say that nothing allows foreseeing the treaty of a real peace, even if on Lacan’s side and after him the question of philosophy in analysis and not merely facing it is incessantly re-opened. It is indeed on the background of this combat, which surpasses them and claims to be interested by thought itself, that the particular history of contemporary philosophy must be re-examined and re-evaluated beyond every problematic of cultural “influences.” Perhaps even, going deeper, it is with Freud more so than Wittgenstein that the Judaic turn begins: this is what profoundly determines the philosophy of the 20th century and is still broader, more dissimulated than this combat with analysis, which is in some sense its mise en scène or its primary representation. We put forth the hypothesis that this Judaic turn is philosophy’s point of inexhaustible fecundity after Nietzsche and facing this sword thrust in the Heraclitean river that should remain Rosenzweig’s protestation for quite a while; to commence, for this is to forget, via Heidegger through his reactivation of the “thing in-itself” and a Kantianism impregnated by ethics; to pursue through Wittgenstein then Derrida; to set off again by infinite provocation in the interminable echoes of Levinas; to punctuate the actions of a more or less offensive resistance of Kojéve, Ricœur, Deleuze, Henry.

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Translation of Laruelle’s “Who Are Minorities and How To Think Them”

F. Laruelle. “Qui sont les Minorités et comment les penser?”. Etudes polémologiques 43 (1987): 175-89.

Who Are Minorities, and How Are We To Think Them?

            Minorities represent a certain type of problem that is both insistent or inevitable and never resolved. For political science, one might say it is a crux, a theoretical impasse. The same goes for political practice. What is the source of this difficulty? There are several reasons. First, for a political reason, it became a problem or a question. The problem of Minorities emerged as such with the history of the great modern States with which it is coextensive and whose constitution it accompanies. Perhaps it was a less critical or less obvious problem with the great Empires wherein Minorities were recognized de facto and sometimes repressed. But in the 19th century with the establishment of unified and somewhat centralized States, they became a question as such for political theory, which is simultaneously the sign of their problematic nature and the beginning of their recognition as such.

Afterwards, it has become not simply a political problem but a social one, too. I believe that it is important for reflection and theory and completely necessary for philosophy to overcome the political limitation of the concept of “Minorities” to which it is still too often restricted. The problem has developed an incredible extension with the appearance of a totally different type of Minorities than the national and political. No doubt they arise as political and historical problems, but they now undergo new experiences and require more extensive and not simply political definitions.

This extension beyond their political origins must therefore be considered, even if historians are not in agreement: the new Minorities are social and moral, they arise within the social body, which is supposedly homogeneous from the outset. They are defined according to age class (the “youth” or the “Third Age”), social class (the “Fourth World”), what could be called sexual class (“women”, homosexual Minorities), and not simply in line with political power, but with social, religious, cultural behaviors as such, i.e. according to a power which is not always political. I realize that this extension can be denied; but, on the one hand, they themselves lay claim to the status of new Minorities; on the other hand, they offer, so as to be thought, the same theoretical difficulties as political Minorities; lastly, it is difficult to contest the fact that the modern social body is increasingly less homogenous, increasingly reticent to define itself by the political point of view alone, and increasingly demanding. There is a veritable continuous social production of new minorities, and it is tied to the emergence of the social beyond the political and to the emergence of the individual and the emergence of particularity beyond the social. The transformation of social relations is accompanied by a continual growth of new demands formulated in terms of difference, identity, and right: de facto differences; de jure differences; but also right to difference, the celebrated “right to difference” which is the foundation of all current claims of identity. How do we summarily characterize these phenomena now that the political veil has been lifted from their definition? Do they have anything in common, and what makes them difficult theoretical objects?

  1. The concept of Minority is unstable, poorly defined, with a tendency to be unlimited because it seems that new Minorities are born in quick succession (there is no definitive threshold based on which a minority exists).
  2. Minorities, whether political or not, always present themselves as multiplicities; they are several by definition and are themselves constituted by a plurality of individuals as such; this is an important phenomenon if we consider the centralizing and unifying inclination of modern States.
  3. They are born and manifest themselves through the mode of demand and struggle, toward a different identity that can be prolonged by violence, even terrorism; so that it may be a right, the “right to difference”, to autonomy, to recognition must be acquired by an initial violence.
  4. They always appear somewhat like phenomena of margins or marginality, fringes, periphery, and danger, simultaneously–indeed I say simultaneously–internal and external in relation to the unity of the social body or the centralized political body of the nation.
  5. Lastly (and this follows from the preceding point), due to the centralized State and its agencies, they are regularly the object of a pressure hellbent on containing them, a pressure which is not always brutal, which can have the form of control and surveillance or indeed repression, in all kinds of forms (policing, administrative, cultural, linguistic, etc.) and which, nevertheless, ends in the negotiated granting of rights political, cultural, linguistic, etc., i.e. a generally relative autonomy within national unity.

This is a short description of a situation that everyone recognizes. But what is of interest here for the philosopher and politician? The interest lies in the fact that, on the one hand, Minorities manifest themselves as an improbable object through the mode of violence and conflict that is simultaneously internal or intestine (civil war at the limit) and external. And, on the other hand, because there is something unthinkable about them. I mean to stress that theoretical and political reflection on Minorities is rather impoverished and ill at ease. A recent “Encyclopédie des Minorités”, published by Caratini[1], defines them in this simultaneously vague and overly restrictive way: they are a historical subset of a nation and involve centrifugal-centripetal relations with the State. This definition perhaps does justice to the multiplicity of minoritarian groups, but it cursorily describes the mechanism that binds and opposes them to the State. The traditional political and theoretical means to which we are accustomed do nothing but vary/refine the first impression: these are the fringes, the margins or marginalities, the subsystems of the State or the subsets of the Nation.

Political philosophy ultimately relies on three, and only three, ways to think them. The first consists in saying that Minorities are modes or modalities–just subsets!–of a centralized unity, State, or Nation; in other words, they are external secondary phenomena that do not have their own autonomy because they refer to the superior (i.e. indivisible) unity of the Nation or the State, which they suppose in every way. The second consists in speaking of “differences”. It will then be said either that Minorities are differences (of language, culture, sexual orientation, etc.) in the interior of/or in a set (which harkens back to our usage of “mode”); or, and this is already more interesting, it will be said that they are differences identical to the State (and not under it or in it), or at least that Minorities are what is universal in the social body, which must itself be interpreted in turn as minoritarian or as becoming minoritarian (I will come back to this conception).

Lastly, the third concept in use is that of the relic or archaism; they have been repressed on the Nation’s behalf and must still be repressed yet again. It will thus be necessary to contain them, to master them, and to integrate them–to carry out a veritable gestation of Minorities (which is also their protection)–by a politics simultaneously of firmness and of juridical/ political concessions by according them a relative (always partial and specified) autonomy. This is due to the fact that Minorities remain perceived as a residual phenomenon tied to the history of modern Nations and States in the 19th century–representing a perpetual danger of reactivating the hotbeds of political (and sometimes terroristic) effervescence–or to supposedly provisional and amendable social dysfunctionings. One point is particularly striking in these definitions. They remain content with describing what is seen or believed to be seen immediately; they basically perceive Minorities from the point of view of the State itself, which contains or represses them. In the same way that the State proposes to better integrate them into its unity, these definitions integrate Minorities into political philosophies, which are always unitary schemas or schemas of unification, identification, and sometimes totalization. Philosophical reflection, above all in this form, flies to the State’s rescue and prepares the way for it; it rarely allows itself to serve Minorities, despite certain appearances. And yet Minorities lay claim to their identity while refusing the identification proposed for them by the powers that be: this paradox must be explicated.

What makes it so hard to think Minorities? The common understanding wants clear and distinct definitions of separate and well-identified objects. But, precisely, the Minorities who claim their “identity” are not easily identifiable as such. They are only understood through rapports, relations, and relations of struggle with the State. But what is generally most difficult to understand is the war, the proportion of force, because it defies this general tendency to posit properly distinct identities. The political, historical existence of Minorities is inseparable from the struggle for recognition and sometimes for autonomy; and their theoretical existence is, on its side, inseparable from contradiction, which is the war in thought. Because they are politically unthinkable, demand or struggle is their only way of making themselves heard. Because they always emerge “out of order” [en rupture], they are politically unthinkable.

However, philosophy, more so than the discourse of political action, has the means to think them. Political reflection often remains content with a historical description and acknowledges struggle; but it does not understand that struggle is a necessary mechanism for the emergence of new Minorities. I would like to describe the four theoretical schemas, the four operative ways of understanding Minorities and of doing them justice.

  1. The most conservative and classical way of conceiving Minorities is to turn them into residual, secondary, external phenomena of relics and archaisms, i.e. ultimately irrational phenomena. Two presuppositions are behind this:
  2. a) Political rationality is represented by the Nation or State as unifying, if the meaning of politics is unification;
  3. b) Politics is itself understood as the reason wherein everyone must fulfill themselves.

If we accept these presuppositions, then Minorities will in fact be vanishing[2] phenomena at the limit of nothingness; they will only have a political least-being, and, at the limit, they will have no political future, no historical destiny, no creative signification for national culture and unity. But, precisely, too often philosophy and political philosophy overemphasize unities either global (People, Nation, State, Sovereign, Country) or specific (a Mother Tongue, a Tradition, a common History, a Culture, etc.). From their point of view, the particularity of such unities is that they involve an apparently simple relation to Minorities, but this relation, unbeknownst to them, is in fact complex. From their point of view, everyone who lays claim to an existence outside or in the margins of these unities has no (political, historical, cultural, etc., i.e. philosophical) existence proper: they are particular deficient modes, modalities of these Unities. They must be understood and reduced as such. And because they have no real existence, there is consequently not even a violent and conflictual hierarchy with Minorities. Minorities are vanishing and condemned to disappear the moment they manifest themselves on the periphery of the social body. They are political nothingnesses; simple limits by way of absence, privation, political insufficiency. Here, politics still has not encountered real opposition, but simply the nothingness or absence of existence. Consequently, there is no longer a proper efficacy or political causality of these Minorities; the only causality is that of the unitary social body represented by the sovereign (man, people, State). Political efficacy as a whole goes in a single and linear direction: from Unity towards the vanishing periphery and therefore nowhere. There is a de jure impossibility of fixing, placing, and identifying Minorities: their existence is annulled by decree (all political identity comes from elsewhere). The logic of power is to be coextensive with logic. Minorities are analytically contained in sovereign unitary power, they bring about nothing new = real. Power is master of itself and therefore master of the political real. The political auto-determination or auto-position of the sovereign includes Minorities.

  1. A revolutionary conception in the broad philosophical (not simply political) sense of Minorities is much more modern. Minorities will finally have an autonomous existence here, almost as strong as that of the State, but only in the form of a fringe of the State. Their relation to the State would by definition always be a relation of force or tension. Their existence would be non-manifested, not as manifest as that of the social body, but it would act through violence, conflict, the risk of destabilization and “blind” or “primary” terror. Given their reality and thus the constitution of the social relation as a relation of force or hierarchy, it is necessary to examine this relation from two points of view, for there will be a double causality, both on the one hand and on the other.

            From the State’s point of view: a double and no longer single action; ensemble of the very gesture specific to any hierarchy, the State can only try to repress them (as Other, Stranger, Unclassifiable) and integrate them through force and violence, be it that of right, which is still a force.

The action of the state is double and single: repress, exclude, internalize. This double relation wherein the social body is in fact directed by what it represses is a symptom. The social body does not see Minorities in their reality, does not see what it does, and this double-edged or contradictory repression weighs down on it. It would be necessary to study this complex mechanism of repression or of self-defense, of conflictual repression.

From Minorities’ point of view: what is the response? It is double:

  1. a) Through reversal and terror; they are the source of heterogeneity and conflictuality. This is the flipside of repression. Reversing the hierarchy of relations of force is the only strategy possible; there is no other solution (if at least Minorities exist-as-repressed). The reversal (destabilization as inversion of all social relations) is inevitable and positive;
  2. b) Through the global displacement of the Unity of the social and political body which is reorganized otherwise, or whose economy of internal relations is modified. Unity is reconstituted, must be reconstituted in the form of a global political order that will be different, wherein Minorities will be heard and their claims will be partially taken into account in the general economy of the forces of a society. These (double) effects signify that global functioning is not much different, yet it is modified. If the claims of regional or popular cultures are taken into account as well as those of social groups primarily perceived as deviant or anomic, what changes is the general tonality of a society. Everything has slowly shifted around, even if whole blocks of social relations have remained as they are.

Here the novelty is the discovery of the political relation of force as such, power as real power and no longer logical or identical to the logical unity of the social body. Minorities are no longer analytically contained in socio-political Unity, they are external and necessarily = structurally given in competition with the State and affect the political body with finitude.

This conception, which winds up in a quasi-dualism, discovers the relation of force as indivisible autonomy, as the only reality. Minorities are simultaneously outside and inside the State and therefore all the more dangerous; what is real is the conflict common to the State and Minorities. The State is condemned to self-defense, but for Minorities it is the other way around. They constitute a sort of Other of the State, a political unconscious of the Nation and even an other-than-political unconscious: linguistic, sexual, social, cultural, economic. This unconscious is all of that, masked or disguised by all of that, but globally anti-political. Minorities cannot simply be political, for they are conveyed and masked by all types of social relations. They are individual, but like the Other can be, thus always also anonymous like the Other: this is an opaque, obscure, unintelligible power [puissance], albeit effective by way of its immediate political non-rationality, by way of this moment or this virtuality of radical terror. Minorities are consequently an instance of Antipolitics simultaneously relative and absolute in the political intelligence of a society. But, at the same time, this structural moment of unintelligibility, which is itself incomprehensible in its unity with the social body, re-establishes a unity or a new hierarchy with it.

This conception is much more subtle, differentiated, and realist than the preceding one, which is a dogmatic metaphysics of politics. It gives right–right of existence–to Minorities and to their multiplicity as such. But this is at the price of rendering them unintelligible, obscure like a primary process of force. Hence a third conception that synthesizes the first two by conserving, from the first, its sense of unitary political intelligibility and, from the second, its sense of multiplicity (heterogeneity, alterity), but without turning it into an external unconscious.

  1. Consequently, a third, equally contemporary solution: the synthetic conception of Minorities as “difference”.

It will therefore be acknowledged that we have to think together the socio-political Unity, represented by the State or embodied by it, and, at the same time, the heterogeneous multiplicity of individuals, cultures, languages, peoples, sexes, and therefore: we have to think the unity of the individual (in a broad sense) and the State. Here still and as always, this identification is not called into question: the most individual forces can demand their autonomy, but they can only do so in view of the State, a new unity, or a relation ultimately better accomplished by the State. The presupposition is the same: Minorities indeed have to struggle against the State, or rather simply struggle against some of its old forms; they are ultimately and even initially inseparable from it, for one continues here more than ever to define Minorities in terms of force, struggle, and combat, and therefore in globally political terms.

What, then, is specific to this identity of the State and Minorities? It is difficult to say. Between them, a smaller distance or exteriority is supposed than previously. Minorities are indeed always those who bring about distance, distension, and the risk of ruptures in social relations or in consensus. But they do nothing but bring it about, and they alone are the ones who can bring it about everywhere: everyone is minoritarian, there are nothing but Minorities in all social relations: the State is the ensemble of their functioning. There is no longer, as before, a distance between a State supposed given, already there, and Minorities already given but as unconscious. There is no longer this quasi-duality of realities here, these two modes of heterogeneous realities that was supposed earlier, including the political and the non-political (the unpolitical is as non-negotiable as ever), but a single type of reality, which is the political. Hence a return to a conception of the political-All or social-All, like in the first solution, where everything is again grasped in Unity and thus also in rationality and intelligibility. There is indeed a multiplicity, an unconscious if you will, but it is immediately embodied by this superior Unity, a single reality which can thus be read simultaneously as nothing-but multiple, nothing but heterogeneous or also even as nothing-but-statist or nothing but social. There is no superior and central State on one side and peripheral and marginal Minorities on the other; this would still be to place an exteriority in them, a distance, that of a center fixed to its periphery or a Unity fixed to its margins. There are nothing but partial sequences of connection that must be called immediately and inseparably statist-minoritarian. Every socio-political phenomenon can and must be read as statist or universal–creating a rule for other phenomena which are minoritarian in relation to it–and as itself minoritarian with respect to another that holds as a superior rule. There are only Relations of force, forces in relation, but in a greater and smaller distance than any bond or synthesis by way of a “generality”. The buffer zones between the State and Minorities have been dismantled, including all the economic, institutional, political, and social generalities with which Minorities no longer identify and which they themselves even critique (destruction of the gregarious and intermediate generalities which code desire or statist-minoritarian flows), yet all the better to identify themselves with the State.

This is a complex and ambiguous position, for the revolutionary force of Minorities is indeed conserved, but it is limited to non-statist generalities rather than turned against the State itself. On the contrary, the latter is devoted to becoming immanent to individuals and to triumph over the ruins of the intermediate and middle bodies. Ultra-anarchism is identical to ultra-statism: an anarchism against the intermediate social forms, but so that Minorities themselves still incarnate the State. The statist-minoritarian complexes revolutionize or reverse the entire social structure and the whole intermediate social base in a perpetual and unlimited way, all the better for the State to triumph.

This is a purified position, the pure political diagram relative to the preceding position. But, above all and consequently, it illuminates an aspect of the philosophical theory of Minorities. The statist-minoritarian connection is purified, manifested as such, relieved of its external forms. What philosophy can do for Minorities is thus fully manifested.

I believe that it is the individual who seeks to be heard in Minorities. But all these conceptions are similar because they posit that the individual is ultimately identical to the State, that the individual realizes herself in it, or despite it, but in every way with it, that the individual forms a system with the State for better or worse. I call these conceptions “mixed Minorities” or “statist-minoritarian Minorities”, and I oppose them–this will be the fourth solution–to another conception, the nothing-but-minoritarian, which will give an absolute right to the individual’s claim and would recognize the existence of Minorities absolutely autonomous with respect the State. The first three conceptions describe the social body, and thus their point of view is still that of the unified social body or the social body of the state; they are on the side of the polis or political reason. This is why, on the one hand, they reduce the existence or reality of Minorities to their struggle–and in struggle it is always the State that is ultimately the victor with a few concessions; and, on the other hand, they remain content with describing the surface of the phenomena without explaining them. From my point of view, these are philosophical and not scientific theories of Minorities; they are engaged or partisan (simultaneously on the State’s side State and on the side of Minorities–thus still on the State’s side, for if one gives a simply political meaning and struggle to Minorities, that would still be on the State’s ultimate behalf). Certainly, one can remark that these solutions are increasingly on the verge of recognizing an autonomous reality to Minorities, not merely a right acquired or conquered in struggle, but a reality irreducible to the State, not relative to it, not accidental or irrational, and more so a reality of opposition to it. Yet these solutions still concede to Minorities a reality of simple competition with the State and remain content with tracing in their concept the most external conflicts (social, cultural, etc.).

For both of these reasons, I prefer a scientific type of description, if possible, of Minorities. By scientific, I understand at least this–this is not all, but at least this: a description that would not reduce them to their struggle alone, thus to their relation to the State alone, that would attribute them a reality before, prior to their relation to the State, which does not mean that they do not maintain relations with the State! It is a requirement of their description to posit their autonomy. Just like any science implies, in opposition to philosophical and political partisanships, it recognizes an autonomy in its object without mixing its object with something else, a consistency by itself. From my point of view, only a science of Minorities as individuals rather than a political philosophy renders intelligible what is at stake in minoritarian struggles, what is concealed in them, the value of what announces itself, which is the recognition of the individual as such or in her multiplicity; it is the recognition of her reality, which is not necessarily political or cultural or linguistic, etc. Aside from the philosophical Minorities I have described, the only one still possible is a science of man qua individual that would replace the renowned “human sciences”, which do nothing but confuse man with her political, social, and historical forms of existence.

[1] Éditions Larousse.

[2] [This notion should be understood in the sense of algebra, i.e. of or relating to a quantity that indefinitely diminishes as it approaches zero—Trans.]

Notes to Laruelle’s ‘Introduction to the Generic Sciences’

[F. Laruelle. Introduction aux sciences géneriques: Editions Petra, Paris, 2008]. These are notes hastily typed up. I have tried to stay close to Laruelle’s verbiage while keeping them notes. I have also interpolated as little as possible.


This work calls “generic” a type of sciences or knowledges [connaissances] sufficiently neutral and devoid of particularity in order to be added to others more determined and co-operate with them, transforming them without destroying them or denying their scientific nature. They are capable of being added to others acquired in a more “classical” way without unsettling what the latter take from their domain of object and legality, i.e. capable of transforming knowledge without philosophically destroying it.

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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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New Translation: Laruelle’s “My Parmenides”

Laruelle, Francois. “Mon Parmenide.” La Decision philosophique 7 (1989): 105-114.

—translated by Taylor Adkins

My Parmenides

On the argument: The One is One because it is One rather than because it is or is Other.

Non-Parmenidian Axioms

1. If the One (etc.), the One is the real identity that founds a transcendental rather than logical axiomatic.

2. If the One (…), and if Parmenides says the One that is, the transcendental axiomatic is non-Parmenidean.

3. If the One (…), and if man is the One itself, the Soul is the only non-Parmenidian identity.

4. If the One (…), axioms are specific effects that form the content of the Soul.

5. If the One (…), the Soul loves axioms.

6. If the One (…), the axiom is made for man, not man for the axioms.

7. If the One (…), Being, the Existent, the Other, Unity, and all the words of language form the alphabet of the transcendental axiomatic.

8. If the One (…), and if man is the only non-Parmenidian identity, the systems that axiomatize the Existent, Being, the Other, Unity, and all the words of language are the content of the Soul.

9. If the One (…), contraries can been rendered identical in the last instance of the One or are consistent.

10. If the One (…), axioms are consistent as affects in-One.

11. If the One (…), the transcendental consistency of axioms is neither their logical consistency nor their philosophical consistency of contraries under the rule of their identity.

12. If the One (…), then the statements: “The One is/and Being,” “the One is/and the Existent,” “the One is/and Unity” are philosophical axioms: transcendent, non-consistent, and illusory.

13. If the One (…), then the statements: “the One is” and “the One is not” are philosophical axioms: transcendent, non-consistent, and illusory.

14. If the One (…), then the statement: “man is an axiom for man” is a philosophical statement: transcendent, non-consistent, illusory.

15. If the One (…), non-Parmenidianism is identically non-Heracliteanism to the close difference of Parmenides and Heraclitus which is contingent.

16. If the One (…), the consistency of axioms is identically their solitude.

17. If the One (…), and if the real axiomatic bears upon every language, axiom is oracle.

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