Upcoming Lectures

Over the next month I’ll be giving a few lectures in the UK and Ireland and if you can make it to any I would love to meet you. Each of the talks constitutes sections from a forthcoming work on Laruelle (which I plan to be my last words on Laruelle before turning to some projects where I deploy non-philosophy) and so I am looking for feedback on how they work.

First, I’ll be attending Laruelle in London sessions on December 10th and 11th. On Wednesday, December 12th (3pm-5pm) I’ll be speaking with those taking Simon O’Sullivan’s “The Production of Subjectivity” course. Simon has said this will be generally open so if you want to come along get in touch with my via email (anthonypaul(dot)smith(at)gmail(dot)com) and I’ll get you the information.

I will be speaking the next day (Thursday, December 13th) in Liverpool as a guest of the Association of Continental Philosophy of Religion and the Liverpool Forum for European Philosophy. The talk will take place at Liverpool Hope University in the Eden building, room 014. My talk is entitled “Victims over Victors: Laruelle’s Ethical Theory” and this is the published description (knowing that publishing such descriptions come with risks these days…):

Is there a way to think about victims and victimhood that doesn’t just pity them and thereby participate in the vicious circle of victors and victims? François Laruelle argues that instead of thinking about victims we should think through victims. It isn’t that there are victims over there, and we ourselves are outside this circle, but that the victim is uniquely revealing of what it means to be human. With philosophy’s historic focus on heroes and victors over victims it has been unable to deal with one of its most important questions: what does it mean to be human? In this lecture Anthony Paul Smith will introduce the general outline of Laruelle’s project before developing Laruelle’s ethical theory through a discussion of media-friendly intellectuals, photo-journalism, and the role theory plays in the pursuit of justice.

In January I will be giving two lectures in Dublin. The first will be the inaugural lecture for the Dublin Unit for Speculative Thought (DUST), which I am quite honored and happy to be doing. The lecture will take place on Wednesday, January 9th (2pm-4pm) at Flat_Pack Gallery (32 Nth Brunswick St. D7). My lecture there (already controversial!) is entitled “Faux amis?: François Laruelle and the Speculative Turn” and the description is as follows:

Interest in François Laruelle’s project of non-philosophy continues to grow, in part because the seeming closeness of his project to that of speculative realism. In this talk Anthony Paul Smith aims to introduce the basic contours of Laruelle’s works in relation to those of speculative realism. While Laruelle has championed a form of thought that is in many ways more virulently non-correlationist than even Meillassoux, he attends to political and ethical questions in a way that appears to weave seamlessly this non-correlationism with a revised, non-standard humanism very different than the anti-humanism present amongst the speculative realists. Exploring this may show how Laruelle’s version of philosophy of science is amenable not with a cold world, but with a vision that simply isn’t worldly.

And then on the 12th I’ll be presenting a 30-minute paper in the last session of the “Mystical Theology: Eruptions from France” conference. This presentation bears the title “Rejecting the World in the Name of Man: On François Laruelle’s Gnostic Mysticism” and the slightly longer abstract follows:

This paper examines the engagement with Gnosticism and mysticism found in François Laruelle’s work (most notably in his 2002 work Future Christ: A Lesson in Heresy and 2004 work Struggle and Utopia at the End Times of Philosophy). Laruelle turns to the Gnostics not out of some puerile attempt at rebellion against Christianity, but because he thinks that the question of the victim demands an ultimate victim and, as Laruelle claims, there are no Gnostics today. The name Gnostic is ironically much maligned even in secular theory, but yet the truth is that the Gnostics themselves have been murdered. Playing on Derrida’s reflections of the memory of victims, Laruelle claims that the fires employed to murder the Gnostics have not even left ashes to remember them by. Laruelle’s tracing of the Gnostic structure of thought is employed to free philosophy from its own idealistic structures, which Laruelle calls “Worldly”, so that it may be a simple material used in the construction of a human messianicity. If philosophy is World-shaped, as Laruelle claims, then it is at the level of the concept of World where the refusal of philosophy must take place to free up its conceptual deadlocks.

At this point in the paper I turn to Laruelle’s 2007 work Mystique non-philosophique à l’usage des contemporains, because it is here that Laruelle tempers this Gnostic hatred of the World through a creative engagement with two forms of Christian mysticism, namely the work of Eckhart (whose style he intentionally apes in the text) and Eastern Orthodox Hesychasm. From Eckhart he draws a theology of identity that avoids a benign and banal definition of the human, opening up a true questioning of what it means to be human, as well as what Laruelle sees as the trap of the ontological argument as taken up in Descartes’ philosophy of identity. From those who practice Hesychasm Laruelle takes up a theology of the name centered on the idea of union, allowing him to develop a conception of the radical immanence of all humans in the name.

I hope to see some of you at one of these.

4 thoughts on “Upcoming Lectures

  1. @TPBlake I think I could have been clearer – and will be! – by saying the institutions of Gnosticism were completely destroyed. So it isn’t a claim that no one identifies with gnosis but that there is no church or tradition passed down of gnosis.

  2. Apologies if that question seemed vague. After I got home from work yesterday I google-researched the Mandeans via a relevant NYTimes article whose title (“Save the Gnostics”) had lodged in my memory, and found this:

    Turns out their scriptures and recent geopolitical traumas are also discussed in the latest version of “The Gnostic Bible”:

    Here’s a link to some BBC coverage of them:

    From all of the above, it appears that the Iraq War has posed a possibly terminal threat to their existence.

    Given the mutual Gnostic sympathies, it seems as if their diasporic plight might be an immediate, pressing, contemporary issue for which non-philosophy might have some natural affinities.

    Really wish I could go to Dublin–that conference and your talk both look great, but my first chapter is due shortly thereafter!

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