The throes of Non-philosophy

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

6 thoughts on “The throes of Non-philosophy”

  1. I like what you have stated here, but I would bracket the emphasis on L doing something ‘independent of Derrida and Deleuze’…In other words, L’s book on Textual Machines investigates, ironically or not, a Delida-Derreuze series…nevertheless, I would say it was out of the ashes of this work in Philosophie I that Laruelle could see how he was still playing the same game of auto-position through displacement and reversal…

    This is not to say that L could not have done ‘non-philosophy’ without Derrida and Deleuze, or to say that he had to wait until they were supposedly ‘done’ thinking…it is simply to point out that if there is an unique independence vis-a-vis Deleuze and Derrida, then it would be in-the-last-instance, so to speak, or at least merely relative.

    Nevertheless, I think for L it was more a question of doing something ‘different’ with/than Dda/Dze than doing something other…

    So, for example, in Philosophie et non-philosophie, Laruelle devotes an entire chapter to what he ironically calls ‘post-deconstruction’. This gives rise to using Derrida (and Heidegger, Levinas, Wittgenstein…) as occasion for elaborating a ‘generalized deconstruction’… I stress this last point, because that was explicitly what was at stake in Machines textuelles…albeit now it has taken on the sense and uni-laterality of ‘non-philosophy’.

    In any case, I don’t agree with your response, I’m merely saying that the way you’ve stated the case about it being clear that L proceeds ‘independently’ is perhaps ambiguous and seems to state something that wouldn’t be true in general. But, all in all, your point that he would not have to ‘wait’ is quite clear.

    I guess what I’m trying to do is to discuss to what extent you’re emphasizing this independence?

  2. Hi Taylor. I apologize for this late reply. Yes, I concede it’s a failure on my part to ‘elaborate’ which gives my ‘response’ an ambiguous texture. I myself find it ambiguous now, after thinking over your ‘response’. Allow me to explain…(How I wish I can exorcise this ghost of ambiguity).

    But before anything else, admittedly belated for an opening, my thanks to you for taking time to read my post. I must say I defer to your opinion in the last instance when it comes to deciding on textual and historical consistency as far as elaborating Laruelle’s difficult works is concerned. I am just a humble reader of Laruelle, one who cannot possibly translate Laruelle in his tongue so as to better understand him. One has to respect language, respect it as it speaks.

    But what is a tongue? What is a language? Certainly, it is other than of which it speaks.

    ‘Independently’–How could I miss the chronological fact that Deleuze and Derrida were already quite established thinkers at the time Laruelle was carefully, least to say, painfully saving his words to mobilize a full blown critique of their works? On the contrary, I am aware of that, ah! this is me alone as my witness. But that is precisely my point. I have an obligation to listen to my own words for, least to say, they were mine until I lost myself in history. This history that is no longer me, properly speaking, a not-self, not myself anymore. Now I have to listen to others’ words…These others who populate history, some are just magnificently historical in the sense of taking passionate interest in its effectuations without questioning their standards; others are like Nietzsche, difficult pilgrims of other-worlds but only as far as the limits of the World could project. Others like Laruelle, apparently, whose time have come, are taking us back to a plane of consistency, too sufficient to be deprived. But deprived of what? Of its hallucinatory incantations that certainly encourage the magnificent and the pilgrim to exhaust the World’s thought-resources so that this same World could be preserved, whose roots could grow into trees, into arborescent structures that make up a big family, a humanity whose audience is sought by the wonders they (the magnificent and the pilgrim, and there are many other types) can make.

    Here, deprivation takes the opposite meaning of binding the subject to a sufficiency that allows no escape, allows no poverty that can make a certain intensive difference obvious, like perhaps the Borromean knot that allows no exit (into creation, as in Deleuze). The deprivation proper to exposing the sufficiency of the plane, of a presignified plane of consistency is the DLI that uncovers the essence of sufficiency proper to the claim to fullness–that the sufficient is properly poor, unilateralized by the wealth of poverty that sufficiency mistakes to be a challenge to become rich. But, are we hearing a new gospel? Certainly, not. We can make a parody of Laruelle’s gospel: Everything is not sufficiency. Here, also, it takes one to get lost in history to realize that there is nothing new in this gospel.

    But I have to blame Laruelle for giving me such impossible courage to forget history as I embrace the ‘other-than’, the future where history or how it has hitherto transformed into a spirit that haunts the World whose structure only some kind of philosophical decision can build loses its power of sufficiency, no less its power to preserve the World (and its ghosts) whose creation is designed ultimately for the flourishing of the historical.

    When I lost my sense of history, a chronological sense, I must say I also lost the rigor of philosophizing. I lost communication with the kind of history proper to the self-sameness of the World. I have become an orphan, less a rhizome even, for with the lost of history I lost the opportunity to take root in any kind of World (a tree, a stem, perhaps) that philosophy can make possible.

    But I can take heart in listening to Laruelle’s voice urging me to take light of my predicament: “[Make] reference to [history and its styles of effectuations]…use them as material for [non-philosophy’s] own intelligence and strictly to the extent that it is separated from them in an ultimate manner” (Struggle and Utopia At The End Times, 56; underscoring mine).

    Ultimately: It can only mean for my lost self (in the sense that I lost its orientation, its axes, the rigors and styles of philo-historical effectuations) that there is another way to say what an ‘ultimate manner’ means–to the extent that they are ultimately separated from non-philosophy’s intelligence these historical effectuations can cease to be materials for it. This much is true, I guess, when we speak of the other intelligence of nonphilosophy, namely, a non-Western reader’s…Certainly, for a non-Western, philosophy becomes strange, perhaps, loses its communicability (in the sense that one can wonder what is fundamentally problematic in it as the Greco-Judaic Christian West has conceived it) when it begins to be understood as sufficient.

    And what would the scholarship, let us say, the passionate patience of elaborating non-philosophy, lose if it agrees to an impossible axiom? Laruelle does not need to wait for Deleuze and Derrida to complete their works for certainly before them there was already the ultimate form of ‘philosophizability’ out of which the non-philosopher could mobilize the determination-in-the-last-instance which may for non-philosophy’s intelligence, as Deleuze had already grasped, date or name historical effectuations (no less the dating and naming of the works of sufficient reason, such as the Presocratics, the Platonic, etc.) but only as occasional materials–yet,certainly there is an all-season material called Man that philosophy totalizes, first and last. It is thus the ultimate immanent material for sufficiency, for a principle or finality whose occasional name, or rather whose historical name is philosophy. But before its name becomes dated and thus named there is already “a belief that encompasses philosophical appearance, the Principle of Sufficient Philosophy” (Ibid., 61). In primitive times, the priest-ideologists were the first to carry out the sufficiency of this belief. Modern philosophy (or philosophy itself) is thus simply the continuing historical occasioning of this belief.

    Back to Man, or rather His experience of being totalized: Laruelle says, “It is [this] experience that becomes the point of reference, it ceases being a simple mention to become a reference” (ibid., 90; emphasis mine).

    I guess this is as far as I can go with my response…

    I really appreciate your time, your precious time as I imagine you are too busy, to comment on my post. Also, my thanks to Terence for providing an occasional background that led to this wonderful conversation though I’m afraid I had tested your patience pointlessly …

    And yes, we can have nice things to occasion ourselves from, granting I understood your point about having nice things… (I don’t even get myself most of the time.hehe).

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