Non-Theology in the Pigsty (A Non-Philosophical Theory of Nature Book Event)

As surprising as it may seem to those of us who consider ourselves, despite it all, theologians, Anthony Paul Smith comes in peace. ‘Ultimately’, he writes, ‘this non-philosophical and non-theological practice, with all its constitutive parts, declares peace to all – the philosophers, the theologians, and the ecologists’ (p62). What sort of peace does he offer? Not the colonial peace of the Radically Orthodox, for whom reconciliation is possible only on condition of the unconditional surrender of all things to Christ the king and theology his queen; nor the hippy peace of certain sorts of green thinking for which we join hands around the world to live in harmony with Nature; nor even (not quite, not exactly) the democratic peace of weak theology, in which we are all as wrong as each other and the real task to cultivate a multiculturalism within which the only thing which will not be tolerated is intolerance. Rather, this is the peace of ecology, a nature red in tooth and claw, the circle of life within which all things interact with one another, a peace which is a matter of indifference to the grass, joy for the lion, but not quite so much fun for the antelope.

The problem with theology, Anthony says, is its incorrigible bossiness. It can’t stop telling nature what it ought to be like, and insofar as it engages with scientific accounts of nature it does so only to demonstrate that they have failed to wash behind their ears, or to hold them up, squirming with embarrassment, as a shining example for everybody else. Theology knows that cleanliness is next to godliness, that good girls wouldn’t ever; theology will take over your country because the poor savages need somebodyto tell them what to do, and it will drag you up kicking and screaming into some semblance of a civilised human being, just as long as it doesn’t murder you first. Continue reading “Non-Theology in the Pigsty (A Non-Philosophical Theory of Nature Book Event)”

No, really, what does Christian theology want from philosophy?

Back in 2009 I asked the question, “what does (certain) contemporary Christian theology want from philosophy?” No one from among the “certain” Christian theologians answered the question. Hardly surprising, as they rarely do answer questions, or engage outside of their own very closed circles. Perhaps it has to do with something about pearls before swine or, just maybe, something about cockroaches scattering when you turn the light on them (I’ll allow the reader to choose their preferred speciesist insult). Without anyone willing to answer, I still have the question rattling around. Recently a few friends and acquaintances on Facebook have been raving about David Bentley Hart’s recent The Experience of God: Being, Consciousness, Bliss and exchanging Christian high-fives about how Hart has really given it to those stupid, incoherent (new?) atheist materialists. I admit it, something about Christian triumphalism in a world bleeding under Christian knives means I couldn’t help but make a few jokes and ask a few aggressive questions. Now, I have never enjoyed reading Hart (his prose so often praised by other Christian theologians has struck me as bloated and pompously overblown, typical of an aggressive 16 year-old overachiever) and I haven’t touched his most recent books (after trudging through the burnt husk of a body that was his reading of Deleuze in The Beauty of the Infinite I had used up all the charity I had for his work), but this question is not really one about Hart in general. Rather, the question has to do with the kind of general condition of the kind of contemporary Christian theology that Hart and others do. When I see a book like The Experience of God or a recent article in Modern Theology by Aaron Riches called “Christology and Anti-Humanism” I cannot help but wonder, who are they writing for? Continue reading “No, really, what does Christian theology want from philosophy?”

François Laruelle’s Non-Philosophy: A One-Day Conference

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.

Badiou on not understanding Laruelle.

Ben Woodard, student at the EGS and specualtive realist partisan, has scored an interview with Alain Badiou. I’m glad Badiou is feeling better as he was unable to attend the Film-Philosophy conference at Dundee and I’m also pleased to hear that he is is apparently not currently on a mountain in the middle of France as he, allegedly, always is, or at least that’s what the email explaining he had a very violent bladder infection said. Anyway, comedy aside, it is interesting in that it gets one of the great living philosophers to comment on a new, popular philosophical trend. Ben, after Badiou says something about the Real in relation to Meillassoux, asks Badiou about his thoughts on Laruelle.

Continue reading “Badiou on not understanding Laruelle.”

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

God-without-Being: A Definition from Laruelle’s Dictionnaire de la non-philosophie

In the comments to the post on the principle of sufficient theology indiefaith asked me what relation there was, if any, between Laruelle and the phenomenology of Marion. I just got Laruelle’s Dictionnaire de la non-philosophie and was surprised to see that it contained an entry on God-without-Being. I thought it might be “fun” to translate it and as it may be of interest to other I’ve posted it below. Taylor Adkins at Speculative Heresy has posted quite a few of these and interested parties should see those translations (I’m sure his translation of this particular entry will be much clearer than my own amateur attempt here).

A quick word on the structure. The first part in italics is the short definition of the term, the second part indebted from the first sets the term in its philosophical history in terms of what is more significant for its non-philosophical use, and the final section is the non-philosophical use of and evasion of the philosophical decision.


First name for the identity (of) “God”, human identity in-the last-instance of a simple onto-theo-logical material. Necessary symbol for a non-theology or a unified theory of philosophy and religious faith.

Continue reading “God-without-Being: A Definition from Laruelle’s Dictionnaire de la non-philosophie