François Laruelle


Dictionary of Non-Philosophy by François Laruelle

“If the dictionary is the gathering together of the dict or its ordinary construction, then surely these little piles of signification, like the drops of an encyclopedic horizon onto blank paper, are simply one of the poles of its concept, the lower limit of its semantic field. Let’s suppose the philosophical deployment of this field and describe the philosophies of the dictionary before describing the philosophical dictionary, and then another dictionary. In that case, a dictionary is an apparatus that produces signification by depotentializing the thought and power of words. What does it say without thinking it through? That the dict can be stockpiled and gathered by reasoned order or by a rigor of thought, but also that the exhaustion of sense is proportional to the affirmation of the identity of the word or of thought. Hence this strange correspondence that divides the gathering of the dictio and the “word for word” of terms into a mirror image, splitting the “dictionary” between the orderly presentation of the already-said and the mediated assembly of the not-yet-said; between spoken speech and speaking speech [parole parlée et parole parlante]; between the multiplicity of commercial tongues [paroles] and the multiplicity of mother tongues [paroles originaires]; between completed, available and circulating ideas and “deferring” or “different” thoughts; between the aphasic tongues of the ordinary and the tongues whose semi-aphasia is wielded by the State.”

I see non-philosophers in several different ways. I see them, inevitably, as subjects of the university, as is required by worldly life, but above all as related to three fundamental human types. They are related to the analyst and the political militant, obviously, since non-philosophy is close to psychoanalysis and Marxism — it transforms the subject by transforming instances of philosophy. But they are also related to what I would call the ‘spiritual′ type — which it is imperative not to confuse with ‘spiritualist′. The spiritual are not spiritualists. They are the great destroyers of the forces of philosophy and the state, which band together in the name of order and conformity. The spiritual haunt the margins of philosophy, Gnosticism, mysticism, and even of institutional religion and politics. The spiritual are not just abstract, quietist mystics; they are for the world. This is why a quiet discipline is not sufficient, because man is implicated in the world as the presupposed that determines it. Thus, non-philosophy is also related to Gnosticism and science-fiction; it answers their fundamental question — which is not at all philosophy’s primary concern — ‘Should humanity be saved? And how?’ And it is also close to spiritual revolutionaries such as Müntzer and certain mystics who skirted heresy. When all is said and done, is non-philosophy anything other than the chance for an effective utopia?
—  François Laruelle - “A New Presentation of Non-Philosophy”
‘What is Philosophy’ “Is a curious dialogue among the living dead… There are Spinoza, Nietzsche and Bergson - the fetish-triad: Benedict, Friedrich, Henri and the others, or the facts of philosophy. There are Kant and Husserl - the bad side of philosophy, its derivative aspect, its ghetto - yes: they are 'ghetto’ philosophers.’ Then there is Christ as function of singularity or empty-square of the event, of the once-and-for-all, occupied by Spinoza, a Spinoza more Christlike than Christian, for whom Christ is a new mask… The philosopher’s confession of faith consists entirely in this imitation of Spinoza, the prophet of immanence: whoever has seen Spinoza has seen philosophy in all its glory…”
—  François Laruelle, “‘I, the Philosopher, Am Lying’: A Reply to Deleuze,” from The Non-Philosophy Project.
If it [non-Marxism] would seem to go back there [to Marxism], it would be more to its problems rather than to its texts, and to problems whose solution implies treating the texts as symptoms, by way of suspension of the philosophical authority. […] It is impossible, even in Freud and in Marx, and even more so within a philosophy, to find radical concepts of the Real and the uni-versal — solely the unconscious and the productive forces, desire and labor. As soon as one arrives to this discovery, psychoanalysis and Marxism gain one utterly new sense — a transformation of their theories into simple material […] These sorts of disciplines require more than just a simple theoretical transformation — a discovery from within a “non-” that would be the effect (of) the Real or its action.
—  François Laruelle, Introduction au non-marxisme qtd. from Katerina Kolozova “The Project of Non-Marxism: Arguing for ‘Monstrously’ Radical Concepts
The photographic process gives us to understand that the real of perception is only a real-effect produced by the free play of images. If photography liberates painting, it does not do so by occupying the most dismal real, abandoning the imaginary to painting; on the contrary, it does so by showing painting that what it believes it paints is a false real, and in dissolving the prestige of perception on which painting believes it nourishes itself. In freeing itself from the real, photography frees the other arts. ‘Perception’ passes into the state of a symbolic support, it is the object of a procedure of symbolization necessary to the freeing-up and the functioning of every blind or irreflexive thought. Like language–the signifier included–in the logical axiomization of the sciences, perception ceases to be supposedly given, it loses its pretension to co-constitute the being of scientific and photographic representation, and it undergoes this symbolic reduction that the new world of images imposes upon it.
—  François Laruelle, The Concept of Non-Photography (1992/2011)
One philosopher does not succeed another without claiming to succeed philosophy itself as a whole. This is how, without knowing it, they renew the original or grounding philosophical gesture.
—  François Laruelle, Principles of Non-Philosophy
It seems indicative that the more radical, purely descriptive and corresponding with the Real the term is, the less theoretical rigor there is to it (to the term itself). Nonetheless, paradoxically, it is precisely the non-rigorousness of the radical term which should guarantee the rigor of the non-philosophical, scientific development of a theory. Descriptiveness of the non-reflected and non-reflecting “lived” (le vécu, on which Laruelle repeatedly insists throughout his work) is something which is, by definition, on the verge of the Poetic. By the very imperative — the axiom which prescribes — that the radical concept “clones” the Lived-of-the Real, it seems that the rigor itself of the theory is provided by the Poetic, as its point of departure. Following Vico, the bordering of the two types of languages, the “scientific” and the “poetic,” produces a form of discourse that could be called “monstrous.” Radical concepts produce “monstrous” discourses: “monstrosity” of political thought and action is that which can radically undermine capitalism and bring forth a completely different horizon of thought and reality.

Photographic presentation represents invariants drawn from the World, but presents or manifests Identity through its very existence as photo alone. It is not Identity that is “in photo”, but the World; but being-in-photo is, qua Being, the most direct manifestation possible of Identity, and also the least objectivating. It is like the effect that, in so far as it is only effect, manifests its cause without ever intending or representing it. The photo is the first presentation of Identity, a presentation that has never been affected and divided by a representation.

ph_tillmans / txt_laruelle

Psychoanalysis is founded on the functional requisition of transcendent entities: Consciousness, the Unconscious, Self, Other, etc. without ever asking how such entities are received and lived by man as real or immanent subject of the science of man. Psychoanalysis presupposes the latter, but in a form which is itself transcendent. It is globally a technology of the Unconscious rather than a science of it. Hence the project of an immanent pragmatics, i.e. by and for the subject (of) science alone, in opposition to this transcendent pragmatics of the Unconscious, which is what analysis is currently. Analysis reposes on a non-founded axiom, if not founded by philosophical authority, which is the Principal of sufficient Consciousness, a sufficiency of the Conscious supposed to co-determine the essence of man. Even if the Unconscious does not derive from a simple negation of the Conscious, it forms a system with it, or with Being, etc. The subject (of) science uproots this principle and returns it to inessentiality, just as it returns the Conscious and the “restrained” Unconscious to the contingency of simple givens. In reality, there is no unique-and-divided subject but a double heterogeneous givenness of the subject, or two givennesses original each time due to their respective mode of phenomenalization of a subject. On the one hand, the subject (of) science which supposes a radically immanent phenomenalization yet distinct from the Conscious and the Unconscious. From this point of view, science is neither an avatar of Conscious nor the Unconscious: it is non-decisional and non-positional (of) self. On the other hand, the subjected or cracked and cloven subject of philosophical decision, or even—but not only—of the Unconscious in the restrained and transcendent sense. The conflation of these two subjects in every psychoanalysis (even in ones that pose the question of the subject) is a type of philosophical amphibology and remains foreign to the spirit of science. With science the distinction is radical or dual, without the teleology or unitary re-closure of the subject (of) science and the subjected subject of philosophy, since the latter is a simple inert material for the former.
The matrix of fiction requires at least two variables in order to break down the appearance of unity, of unitary determination and reality that are ordinary art and knowledge. One must have two variables in order to calculate their products, such that the quantum returns twice, once as a variable and a second time as index or re-branding [re-marque]. This index orients the fictional matrix towards that which, by its superposition, creates the generic equivalent of reflective consciousness and produces knowledge or an indeterminate fiction, that in the end is translated not into numbers but into philosophemes. And here we have the variables of the subject=X photo-fiction, variables endowed with a complex number that defines them as vectors and as a magnitude of probability. The two variables, science and philosophy, seem able to express themselves together from the same object, from the man or subject=X of philosophy and science, but the matrix dissolves this appearance of transcendent unity when it comes to the generic object.

François Laruelle, Photo-fiction, a Non-Standard Aesthetics