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

In honor of the recent translations of Laruelle’s work (Struggle and Utopia, Principles, Anti-Badiou), as well as a couple coming out in May (Dictionary, Philosophy and Non-Philosophy), I have decided to post my translation of an essay of Laruelle’s from the 80s on ‘politics’. The journal in which Laruelle originally published the essay is now defunct. If anyone desires the original French text, please let me know. It should also be noted that at the end of the essay there is an extensive bibliography on the subject-matter of minorities, but I am unaware whether or not this is Laruelle’s or is provided by the journal…I am under the assumption that these references are provided as further reading by the journal, insofar as they concern geopolitical/juridical discourses on minorities (no philosophy, strictly speaking, is included). The publications referenced there are in English and French.

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

Who Are Minorities and How To Think Them?

            Minorities represent a certain type of problem both insistent or inevitable and never resolved. For political science, one might say that it is a crux, a theoretical impasse. The same goes for political practice. What is behind 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 grand Empires where Minorities were recognized and sometimes repressed de facto. But in the 19th century with the establishment of the unified and more or less centralized States, they have become a question as such for political theory, which is simultaneously the sign of their problematic character and the beginning of their recognition as such.

Afterwards, it was not simply a political problem, but became social. 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 too often restrained. The problem has developed an incredible extension with the appearance of Minorities of a totally different type than the national and political. No doubt they are born as political and historical problems, but they now undergo new experiences and require more extensive and not simply political definitions.

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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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Meillassoux’s Heresy? or The Chaos-God

[The following is a collection of excerpts from a paper I am working on about Meillassoux, Quantum Physics and the return of the anthropic in systems categorically opposed to the high status of the human.]

The theoretical passage, or perhaps more accurately the gaping chasm, between Quentin Meillassoux’s rigorously critical After Finitude to his divinological contribution to Collapse IV “Spectral Dilemma,” signals not only potentially strange consequences for the Speculative Realist project on the whole but also what several commentators have already noticed; that there is at best a political/ethical caesura and at worse an apolitical/unethical core in Speculative Realism.

In After Finitude, Meillassoux sets out to challenge the widespread but implicit correlationist enjoinder – that humans and the world they inhabit are codependent, and that the world only exists to be accessed by humans (AF, p. 5).  The argument here is essentially a complexification of ‘if a tree falls in the woods does it make a sound?’ (AF, p. 18-19). For Meillassoux and other Speculative Realists, the answer to this question is a resounding yes in the face of half a century of denials tantamount to theoretical heresy in that he claims that the absolute can be thought (AF, p. 30). Meillassoux goes on to de-comfort the physical world and ends with the assertion that the base line of existence is a storm of hyper-Chaos in which everything goes out the window except the law of non-contradiction.

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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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