Rather than offering an overall perspective on A Non-Philosophical Theory of Nature in this post, I wanted to highlight several moments that I found particularly insightful to think and wrestle with.
1. The most viscerally powerful moment for me in the book was the image it offered for the possibility of what a generic secular might look like. Anthony recounts a dual act of solidarity that occurred between the Muslim Community and the Coptic Orthodox Christians in Egypt. The first was the act of solidarity by Egyptian Muslims who, in the wake of a suicide bombing against the Coptic community, encircled a Coptic Christian Church to provide the worshippers a human shield that would allow them to safely celebrate Christmas. The second image is likewise an encircling of protection. During the Tahir square occupations, a number of protestors carried out their religious duty and prayed during the calls for prayer, and in so doing, left themselves vulnerable to police harassment and brutality. This time it was the Coptic Christians who encircled the Muslims, constructing a human shield and allowing prayer to continue free of harassment and intimidation. Continue reading “Some thoughts on secularity-without-secularism and non-philosophy more generally (A Non-Philosophical Theory of Nature Book Event)”
The newest issue of Political Theology is now available. I bring this to your attention as it contains excellent articles by some of our own — see Brad Johnson’s “Doing Justice to Justice” and Anthony Paul Smith’s “The Judgment of God and the Immeasurable.” Check them out.
It transpires that well know conservative philosopher Roger Scruton is giving the Gifford Lectures this year with the title ‘The Face of God’ – the basic gist being popular science is wrecking everything. As Scruton demures “By understanding the world in the way of popular science we fortify those destructive tendencies in our culture which are wiping away the face of the world”. In an essay ‘The Sacred and The Human‘ Scruton gives a preview of what will be said. Scruton begins with a tour of reductions of religion in secular in Hegel, Schleiermacher, Feuerbach, Freud, Frazer and Durkheim, then he ends up at René Girard who ‘wins’, by proving a theory of religion that is positive about the role of Christianity as a unmasking of the problems of mimetic violence and proving a solution to it in positive imitation (of Jesus and of God) and the end of sacrificial violence. Contrary to Dawkins, Dennett and Hitchens then, religion in general but monotheism and Christianity in particular, is not in essence violent but a refutation of most forms of violence – “Religion is not the cause of violence but the solution to it”. This though is problematic for what Scruton wants, and maybe reveals one of the philosophical problems of our time, highlighted to me at last week’s conference in Dundee and Adam’s recent highlighting of a post on the use of evolutionary psychology in the study of literature. He is attempting to refute one (social) science in the name of another.
Continue reading “No One Is Afraid Of Big Bad Science (When It Agrees With Them)”
We’ve finalized all the details for the Nottingham Laruelle event on March 5th. If you do want to attend, please register by emailing me at anthonypaul[dot]smith[at]gmail[dot]com. The event is free, but we’re providing a light lunch and need to know the correct numbers in order to provide the correct level of catering.
Please circulate this information and post on your blogs.
This is the final chapter of Les Philosophies de la différence and by far the most important for future work by Laruelle. It ends in a kind of failure, which is interesting in itself, but a failure on philosophical terms that opens up to the work of Philosophy III where Laruelle breaks from sufficiency of philosophy more rigorously. I’ll be posting the notes as a PDF tomorrow with a final wrapping up post. – APS
“From the Undecideable to the theory of the philosophical decision”
Every system of Difference (philosophy), even those of Finitude, have posed the question, what is the essence of the philosophical act? But they have not been able to pose that question outside of that essence and that is the problem of a real logic of the philosophical decision and the status of a principle of real non philosophical [no dash in original] choice in philosophy. The only point of view that is radical immanent and transcendental to the philosophical decision is that of the “immediation” of the non-thetic (of) self, that is the One.
“The (non-)One and the contingency of the philosophical decision”
What are the effects of the One on the philosophical decision? Laruelle says there are two kinds. This section explains the first and the following explains the second. The first is the manifestation of a hallucinatory character of the non-real of the decision that is rejected in turn through a radical contingency that is the correlate of the One.
Laruelle gives a general definition of the philosophical decision: “In general, a philosophical decision is a break [coupure] – repeated and revived – towards an empirical or, more generally, given singularity and, at the same time, and an identification with an idealizes law that it gives, supposing itself then real, a transcendence towards the truly real. It is a relation and it adjusts itself each time according to the real assumed given and reduced, and of the real assumed achieved and affirmed (215).” Continue reading “Laruelle’s Les Philosophies de la différence – Chapter VII: Theory of the Philosophical Decision”
“Derrida between Nietzsche and Heidegger”
This study of Derrida is placed into the analytic of Difference. This is in order, not to denounce the philosophical decision, but to understand it within the frame of not real, hallucinatory, and required. Derrida is the thinker who carries the philosophical decision to its pure and simple aporetic dislocation. The deconstruction of metaphyics is the “truth” of it, the enlarging of it and radicalizing of it as inconsistent that characterises the non-real, purely fictional and hallucinatory that is philosophy in general. This comes with a complimentary thesis that states “the auto-dislocation of the philosophical decision is at the same time its becoming-unitary, its auto-collapse, its auto-inhibition in itself – its paralysis (122).”
He is not applying deconstruction to itself. Rather this study evaluates from a non deconstructive point of view the mechanism (its validity suspended from the One) of “Differance” and of the affection of the logos by differance. Laruelle uses the capital in order to designate the glocal system of Difference (without the a) and the lower case to designate the moment of alterity, cutting, or slowing down of continuities and the specificity of the system of Differance. The same goes for Deconstrution (the type) and the deconstruction (the procedure).
What Laruelle hopes to show is that Differance is one of three types of Difference, the other two being the Greco-Nietzschean and Deleuzian Difference and the Heideggerian Differenz. Yet, at the same time, Derrida introduces an original and important variation into the tradition and this constitutes Derrida’s irreducibility into the philosophical field. That variation is found in the Jewish component that Derrida inserts between the Nietzschean and Heideggerain poles of Difference. Specifically, against the Greek notion of Difference and the Greek notion of finitude, Derrida presents an elaboration of Jewish finitude. Levinas does not present the same thing, as Derrida has shown a Greek symptom in Levinas as well, and so what Derrida adds is not the difference of the Greek and the Jew, but the Jewish mode of the aporia. Continue reading “Laruelle’s Les Philosophies de la différence – Chapter V: Derrida”
[N.B. I’m not summarizing a great deal of the technical discussion of Hegel and Heidegger here. Largely because Laruelle assumes a lot of knowledge form his reader, some of which I have and some which I do not, but also because I’m not really interested in his reading of the figures as such. Thus I try to touch on the important aspects of his own thought and so the notes for this chapter are a littler shorter than the others. – APS]
“The insufficiency of syntax and the passage to Finitude”
In this chapter Laruelle will explore the difference between Difference and the dialectical “Concept”, hence the title “Hegel and Heidegger”.
Difference is circularity and reversibility. If one considers Difference only from the point of view of syntax it seems to give much of itself to Aufhebung. It is a reversible immanence of contraries, each opposed being one with its its other and with itself, and thus also the contrary of itself. Difference does not exceed, in the general conception of its mechanism or the syntax of its essence, the Greek horizon. The reason that syntax is insufficient to the reality of Difference is because it inscribes Difference into a question of identities and contraries, which turns out to quickly be insufficient when you ask questions about the identity itself. Thus working from syntax only is an idealist vision of reality and this is what differentiates Heidegger’s insertion of Finitude into Difference from the rest of the tradition. Continue reading “Laruelle’s Les Philosophies de la différence – Chapter IV: Hegel and Heidegger”
I should note that, somewhat on accident, I have not been noting differences in syntax that can be found in Laruelle’s early to late work. For instance in this text he speaks of the Vision-in-the-One [Vision-en-l’Un] whereas in latter works it is simple Vision-in-One [Vision-en-Un]. I’m not sure if there is a reason for this, though since he changes his stance on the authority of science from this work (in the period of Philosophy II) to the next (Philosophy III), it is a live possibility that he no longer thinks of the One, but simple One of which there can be many. Also of note is that he talks about the Real here but he does so without the capital letter. At times I have have followed him and at times slipped into my knowledge of his later work. I can’t think of a good reason for this change except maybe in later work he’s trying to emphasize the autonomy of the Real from thought. – APS
“From Syntax to the reality of Difference”
Difference thinking itself or reflecting itself implies the disjunction and belonging between syntax and reality, the articulation of the real and the experience of the real articulated. This chapter examines the reality of difference in that disjunction.
In order to consider the reality of Difference Laruelle has recourse to the philosophical discussion about finitude. He describes the Heideggerian notion of “Finitude” in quasi-Kantian terms as the irreducible distinction of being in self in relation to the objective or present being, the ob-ject. Opposed to this is the Nietzschean raising of Finitude to the auto-position of Being as essence. This is inseperated from the idealist and classic metaphysical spirit. Continue reading “Laruelle’s Les Philosophies de la différence – Chapter III: Reality of Difference”
“Difference as the Form of Order [forme d’ordre]”
The One, as its essence is saved from the philosophical decision, is no Difference and has no need of it. But difference is a philosophical interpretation of the One and does have need of it. This chapter thus deals with the question of how to pass from the One (concretely and absolutely without-division) to the syntax of Difference as the articulation of the philosophical decision and thus to the minimum or residual syntax of all possible philosophy.
Difference is an inclusive dis-junction in which each “neither… nor…” and “not”, though negative, produce or immediately give the Indivision. In this way we can see that the philosophies of Difference repeat a fundamental gesture from neoplatonism – the via negationis. This is a philosophical technology that is traditional and found in “the adventures of transcendence and decision (38).”
The One is not “unified unity” (for this would mean it was divisible) but “unifying unity”, this being the transcendental sense of the One rather than empirco-ideal. [Note there is a subtle differentiation here about “unities” in Laruelle. The One (a name for the Real) is a unifying unity because it cannot be itself split (even if we try to split it it remains indifferent to this “artificial” splitting) while the objects of thought, even non-philosophical thought like “unified theories”, can be split up into their parts and rearranged in an infinite amount of mutations. – APS] Continue reading “Laruelle’s Les Philosophies de la différence – Chapter II: Syntax of Difference”
The first section is entitled, “How Difference became a philosophical decision”. Difference is understood here as a name for the constellation which assembles certain contemporaries in complex relations but nevertheless remain in proximity to one another. This means Nietzsche and Heidegger but also those who follow after them (Foucault, Deleuze, Derrida). Difference is the shadow of the old Greco-occidental world. The dominance of “Being” on thought came to be replaced, partly due to Heidegger’s own thinking, by “Difference”. Difference isn’t an Idea or a category, but rather a syntax and concrete invariant of philosophy.
“Difference is a syntax, a manifesting of articulating philosophical language. It is also a thesis of reality, a certain experience, itself multiple, of the real (16).” It is a functional unity of both syntax and experience which elevates it to the level of a principle – real and “transcendentally” logics – and in this way is an instance of the philosophical Decision that can be found in other such principles (Contradiction, Existence, Structure). Continue reading “Laruelle’s Les Philosophies de la différence – Introduction: From the Aporias of Difference to the Vision-in-One”