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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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.

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