“Man-in-person: Critique of the Trinity”: Selection from Laruelle’s Le Christ futur

Below is a translation of a section entitled “Man-in-person: Critique of the Trinity” from Laruelle’s Le Christ futur. I’ve posted it for two groups of people – the theologians and philosophy of religion types who may be interested in another, very different Continental philosophy of religion and for the Speculative Heresy group that may find this section interesting in so far as it illuminates what Laruelle means by Man-in-person. Reading Laruelle on the Trinity I can’t help but be nagged by the same question I’ve had since I started getting interested in him – is he genius or just insane? You will note that there is no footnotes in the book at all and he rarely shows his learning in these matters. Those wanting a bit more context for this should consult this set of definitions translated by Taylor Adkins at Speculative Heresy. There are some other translations there and a list of pdfs in the resources section for those with even more interest.

In so far as Ray Brassier has been the main, nearly sole, English-language progeny of Laruelle’s work most have tended to focus on the realist and materialist aspects of Laruelle’s philosophy. In so far as Laruelle has engaged quite a bit now with religious ideas, and largely though the mystical tradition of Christianity (in its theological and philosophical forms), I wonder if such a view should be modified in some way. Does Laruelle truly shorn matter from any constituent relation of thought in a way that could be recognized in the old style? Or does his obvious interest in religion (of the particularly weird and fucked up variety) not point to some kind of other realism and some other matter? Do not be lead on; I don’t pretend to have an answer to that.

From François Laruelle, Le Christ futur. Une Leçon d’hérésie (Paris: Exils, 2002). 40-42. Original translation Anthony Paul Smith, 2008

Man-in-person: Critique of the Trinity

Christianity, but more so gnosis, indicates to us Man-in-person as final identity for a theory of religious experience. Man whose act is its own real identity, the irreducible core which makes it human and not just differentiates it from the rest of Creation, more over to which it belongs, but even from this one. Understand then that this real and non transcendent identity, in-Man, was the phenomenal content from which theologians tried to think as “person” when constituting the Trinity. The person constituent of the theological “three persons” conveys the prejudices of anthropology and Greek ontology which must not only be deconstructed but, as we were saying, “dualised” or withdrawn following the rules of unilateral duality that are the way Man-in-person structures his relations in the World [au Monde] and the practice [usage] which he makes of it. In order that the theoretical sense of immanence honour here common speech, we have not just called “person” but “in-Person” the Idenity or the One proper to humans and to the subjects to which they transmit these via the operation of cloning, a rigorous formula of the immanent begetting of Sons of Man. Non-Christianity develops in this manner the non-theological phenomenal content of the Trinity, without making exception for the Holy Spirit, an equivalent to the auto-encompassing sufficiency of philosophy, and which it will understand as the Holy Love of whom mysticism only gives an image.

If the three persons-in-one of the Trinity traces as a closed system the philosophical triad or the structure of the Philosophical decision (2/3 and 3/2), as Hegel exploited it, and does not make testimony to the stranglehold of philosophy as a Greek way of thinking, then non-Christianity will not just oppose to them a unique person whose identity may be dialectical, or an infinite multiplicity of persons (Nietzsche) who repeat the system, but a unique “essence” of “in-Person”. Rather a non-essence than an essence in the final state of auto-position, Man-in-person is a real cause. It is not a prototype since it is not first but possesses only the primacy of the Real and thus forbids all reconstitution of a Trinitarian system. In-person signifies that the World is already also it as given-in-Man, rather than created, and already deprived of its folly of self-importance that decreed it uncreated for the Greek or created for the Christian. It is why Man-in-person may clone (give or produce in-One) from it a Son, a subject generated-without-birth. A subject crucified in its way by the self-importance of the World in the same operation by which as cloned it conquers the death-World [mort-Monde].

We will differentiate thus three instances indicated by “in-Person”:
1. Man, par excellence Uncreated-in-person as cause of two other “in-Persons” (and not of their being-in-the-world [être-dans-le-monde]),
2. the Son of Man as Future Christ, who is the subject, that is to say the World in-Person such as [tel que] given-in-Man rather than of-World [en-Monde] and delivered from the Principle of Sufficient World,
3. The Holy Love as erotic unition [unition] of Christ-subjects.

All are non-conceptual symbols, they are not themselves simply opposed to the concepts of onto-theo-logy but rather make a certain regular use of it by unilateral duality. They undo the supposed universal validity of Christian anthropo-theo-logy and even Gnostic anthro-theo-logy insofar as it conserves Greek ontological presuppositions. Much as onto-theo-logy is of the nature of a system and leads to dogmatism and conservatism, so non-Christianity is a striving to in practice make from doctrine a theoretical instrument of salvation for man-in-the-World [l’homme-dans-le-Monde] and of the World itself. To the spirit of the closed system that invests faith, subjecting man in making him believe in his alienation and in his sin, it substitutes an organon of liberation adequate to the non-consistency which makes it incorruptible as Man and corruptible only as a subject.

7 thoughts on ““Man-in-person: Critique of the Trinity”: Selection from Laruelle’s Le Christ futur

  1. haha, genius or crazy seems to be a common reaction to laruelle. i tend to lean towards the former (maybe not genius, but certainly insightful), but then i also tend to just cut out the extra stuff that i can’t get on board with.

    right now i’d probably view him in a similar way as how i view meillassoux – they both do fantastic work pointing out philosophy’s pretensions and latent idealism, but where they go from there is more controversial. the problem then would be how to be non-philosophical or non-correlationist without necessarily subscribing to laruelle or meillassoux’s systems. laruelle even points out this possibility at one point when he says there are options for non-philosophy other than his own. so to escape from the structure of decision isn’t necessarily to accept laruelle’s non-philosophy.

    but regardless of my thoughts on this stuff, thanks for the translations, especially as a counter to brassier’s materialist and realist reading!

  2. Nick,

    I am very interested to see what Meillassoux has to say in his coming magnum opus. After Finitude was a real shock to the way I think and brought up some questions that I hadn’t really considered. I’m not sure I buy it all though – when he talked at Middlesex Peter Hallward asked him if mathematics was really not anthropomorphic in the way he wanted it to be pointing out that even the way the arche-fossil was counted was in terms of an earthbound way of counting time (a year). I guess what I mean is that, in terms of realism, I don’t think one needs mathematics/quantia over or in contradiction to something like life/qualia. Actually, one of the “speculative realists” (and interesting Meillassoux played down that label and kept affirming that he was still a speculative materialist) makes this argument too: Iain Hamilton Grant.

    I also wonder if there is a way to be non-correlationist and still have an account of a strong continuity between thought and existence. Arguably Thomas and Spinoza are not correlationists but they both have a strong use of the ontological argument that goes far beyond the normal first year course on it. What do you think?

    I should also say that I really admire and respect Ray’s work even if I disagree with it. By far he is the most clever and seductive nihilist out there. And I wouldn’t mean to suggest his work on Laruelle is flawed, but I just don’t know what to do with his account and this material.

  3. I’d completely agree that mathematics need not be the sole means to reach some realist absolute. I like Brassier’s comment in Collapse to the effect that defining mathematicity as the single defining aspect of realist science seems to disqualify numerous sciences we’d also want to uphold – notably biology. I’d suggest that this emphasis on mathematics is the influence of Badiou on Meillassoux, with them both suggesting that it allows thought to break through human finitude. While I can agree with that, it doesn’t necessarily follow that only mathematics can reach the absolute. I’ve been meaning to read through Grant’s work, since it seems the closest to Deleuze, so it’ll be interesting to see how he see how he argues (if he does) for the role of non-mathematical discourse and science.

    As for Thomas and Spinoza – I know nothing of Thomas and relatively little of Spinoza (predominantly through Deleuze), so I can’t really comment on them. I think, though, that what non-philosophy and non-correlationism prohibit is the idea that the absolute and ideality are co-constitutive all the time. The problem both Laruelle and Meillassoux seem to point out is that philosophy has typically taken thought to necessarily be correlated with reality, so that there’s no real possibility for it to have its own absolutely independent dynamics. What they don’t say, however, is that thought is never capable of co-constituting reality. It’s more of a limiting gesture (limiting philosophy’s pretensions) than a negating gesture (negating all of correlationism or philosophy).

    And note that Meillassoux never argues that facticity is wrong – in fact he relies upon its truth in order to counter correlationism’s own extravagant claims. So within Meillassoux’s own system, the facticity of a relation between thought and reality is required – it just no longer bars us from speaking of the real either.

    But these are all rather speculative ideas right now; regardless I think it’s important to not just toss out correlationism and revert to an opposite extreme. There can still be a place and role for thought…

  4. At the risk of stating the obvious, your views on this guy are probably a false dichotomy. I would not want to prejudge this guy’s work from the very rough translation here. On the other hand, the thoughts are expressed in a way that seems to lead me, the reader, to think its mystification is called for due to the nature of the subject. I think Cavell’s and others’ work have similar import but without the abracadabra air.

    I would also add that I get whiffs of Stirner and Feuerbach.

    I mentioned Stephen Mulhall’s work, Philosophical Myths of the Fall, before. I suggest that Mulhall deals with the same subject as Laurell but in a deeper, lucid and more accessible manner.

  5. Nick,

    I think your presentation is right on and brings out some things I covered over too quickly. I keep wanting to ask an old professor of mine, Peter Steeves, what he thinks of this charge of correlationism at phenomenology. Steeves is a Husserlian phenomenologist and also a scientist and presented phenomenology to us as a realist philosophy. But, yeah, Meillassoux’s work is really interesting and incredibly lucid in its argument. I was lucky enough to have a few words with him after he presented a paper at Middlesex (which was a bit disappointing as he basically just gave the argument from his book, but one can’t really fault him for that as it had just come out in English) and he’s really like that all the time. He really enjoys discussing ideas and arguments and does so always with a singular clarity. I think he is taking these arguments about mathematics to heart and, once again, will present something incredibly challenging and worth reading.

    cynic librarian,

    Sorry you found the translation rough. He is a rather difficult writer in the French and I didn’t want to reorganize each sentence in a way that would lose his syntax (as he makes a rather big deal out of the use of syntax). If you would like to see how it comes across in the original he has texts up at his website (just do a google search for non-philosophie).

    I don’t get why you feel my “views” are “probably a false dichotomy”. I haven’t presented any views. I raised a question relating to the already existing English-language scholarship on Laruelle. I didn’t mean to suggest, if in fact it came across that way, that Brassier’s work is take it or leave it.

    Of course you get whiffs of Stirner (I would think a bit less so) and Feurbach (I would think a bit more so), but also Spinoza (“Man is God to man.”), Marx, andalso a few weird “spiritual” theologians like Eckhart and Gregory of Palamas (the second book on mysticism deals with the practice of Hesychasm). I wouldn’t go so far as to reduce his thought to a repetition of Feuerbach or anyone else though. He’s obviously trying to do something different here.

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