The throes of Non-philosophy
February 25, 2013
Or, Why Are We Still In Mourning?
On whether Laruelle has to wait for Derrida or Deleuze to complete their thought-experiments before he could achieve a solid critique of philosophical sufficiency that the two represent in terms of which non-philosophy could then officially usher in the contemporary landscape of thought, I think it is pretty clear that Laruelle pursued his project independent of them, not to mention that realistically speaking these experiments would never find completion. That is the whole point of Laruelle’s critique of the sufficiency of philosophy. It mistakes its ecstases as completed junctures, as saturated phenomena or fields of fulfillability where philosophy validates its self-prophetic visions.
Sufficiency is inherent in all philosophies. From what Laruelle has so far said of the development of his thought, it was from Marx through Althusser that he learned to develop the tenets of non-philosophy, especially, the method of dualysis and the determination-in-the-last-instance without which non-philosophy would not usher into contemporary thought. But the decisive moment of his critique comes with Deleuze announcing a break with philosophy’s circularity, or what could amount to a non-philosophical critique of philosophy. Yet in Deleuze the non-philosophical is always already the ability of philosophy to critique itself, its self-reflexivity. Philosophy’s sufficiency fully exposes itself without qualms in Deleuze (with Guattari in What is Philosophy?). There the task of philosophy is reduced to concept-making/engendering. No longer of discovering transcendence, God, or substance (since Spinoza philosophy has weaned away from uninformed theologism); no longer of grounding causality in a metaphysics beyond immanence for it is easy to see that immanence alone has the motive to think ‘transcendence’. After the mask of immanence is cast off immanence has no choice but to pursue its radical direction, to pursue its origin in transcendence but as a fold of immanence, the fold as the forgetful essence of metaphysics (of thinking transcendence). Here, the task of philosophy is defined with finality. The exposition of the lie of transcendence practically imposes the eternal embargo against causal thinking in favor of the same eternality required of thinking in terms of effects and surfaces, concepts that embody in themselves the proper motive for thinking transcendence. All the while what was lacking was a proper motive for transcendence, the motive being what is proper to transcendence, namely, a consistent exposition of the immanence of its claim that applies much to the subject that by its very finitude is prone to the excesses of immanence as immanence is practically an excess. When the motive was finally revealed, transcendence leaks out, makes itself available to all subjects. It loses its mystery. It can be practically lived. Yet all these take cue from philosophy being able to finally realize its true task.
In Derrida, deconstruction also supposes a sufficiency, a sufficient sense of history that ironically even without deconstruction is deconstructing itself in a manner of auto-poeticism. There philosophy is reduced to witnessing the deconstruction of the object-cause of history by the object itself, namely, the foldedness of immanence, its ahistorical origin because needless to say it takes a decision to begin history, to proceed from oneself as self-nomination, as Marx and Nietzsche exposed. One need not needlessly wonder how this foldedness of immanence becomes historical. Deleuze says the fold is the memory and it is memory that we live out until superseded by another institution of memory, of course, in the span of a lifetime. Beyond Deleuze, the self-folding automatism of history is reduced by Derrida into the capacity of the trace (the object) of memory as only its trace not memory in itself can be meaningfully understood (memory is a trace of the trace, etc.) to take the place of history itself. Even without deconstruction, this trace de-constructs itself by revealing its other origin, which consistent with his Heideggerianism Derrida translates into pursuing other beginnings within the margins of history.
These margins by the way already touch the dimension of the future.They lie outside the circle of Nietzsche’s eternal return. Derrida’s powerful reinterpretation of Heidegger’s Ereignis is truly revolutionary except that even this revolutionary gesture relies on a sense of completion (which also explains Heidegger’s self-referential futurity, otherwise his inability to break with the ideology of the death of God, ‘the death’ being the ultimate sufficient cause of philosophy that cannot move beyond the present whose temporal integrity relies on the infinite capacity of God to die eternally, that is, in the present). This sense of completion is guaranteed by the sufficiency of philosophy–that only philosophy can see and pursue these other beginnings, that only philosophy can take the initiative for other disciplines to take on these other beginnings.
Taken in the above light, we can tolerate the sufficiencies of Badiou, Zizek or Meillasoux and even OOO for we see in them what Derrida, sans the sufficiency that motivates his deconstruction, also see in Heidegger, that is, the pursuit of other beginnings. Even for Laruelle these pursuits are permissible for they afford non-philosophy materials for dualysis. And yes, Laruelle also relies on a sense of sufficiency, but not constitutive of non-philosophy, rather parasitic to philosophy. Sufficiency is philosophy’s own making, not of non-philosophy’s. There lies the difference. At the end of the day, Laruelle teaches us to witness all these with openness and releasement to the wonder they never fail to evoke.
Still, I have issues with non-philosophy and it is motivated, among others, by the conviction of some that Laruelle’s time has come. That his time has come only makes sense if we agree that Laruelle took Derrida and Deleuze’s works as incomplete at the time he was critiquing them. I can only wonder just exactly when can their works be completed and by whom. The way I see it is this: as long as we make non-philosophy dependent on philosophy’s completion we can never get over the throes of experiencing the death of God. I also believe this is what psychoanalysis teaches us. I cannot expand on this further for I intended this to be a short post. Other chores are beckoning. But suffice it to say that we will never cease mourning for the death of God until we allow other beginnings to redefine God, say, as an immanent Real as, for instance, in Lacan. Seemingly, in Philosophies of Difference, Laruelle takes great pain to expose Lacan’s psychoanalysis just to see to it that he agrees with Lacan, sans Lacan’s anti-philosophical (not non-philosophical) sufficiency, otherwise a philosophy biting its own tail.
This post is in part a response to Terence Blake. See http://terenceblake.wordpress.com/2013/02/25/why-laruelle-why-now-reflections-on-some-recent-trends-in-continental-philosophy/