being, communication, Deleuze, immanence, language, Laruelle, naivete, paradox, philosophy

Laruelle

Notes on the Preface of Laruelle’s Critique of Deleuze

“There is reason to revolt against the philosophers,” this is where philosophy, in its greatest triumph, only further encourages itself. This is the moment, when philosophy perhaps no longer recognizes the autonomy of science and art, that it denies their autonomy, and with the utmost subtlety.
Francois Laruelle, “I, the Philosopher, Am Lying: A Response to Deleuze”

Deleuze has discovered a secret — the secret or the property of philosophy, a secret which gives us the impression that it is very old and that it has been lost. He discovers the philosophical idiom, which now becomes alien to itself, but which remains an idiom precisely because it has become the language of the infinite. The language of the good news is absolutely private and absolutely universal. Their coincidence is the peak of the self-contemplation of the philosophical community. Hence the horror displayed towards transcendent artifacts like consensus and communication.

Laruelle, ibid.

1.
Francois Laruelle opens the preface of his remarks on Gilles Deleuze by stating that it is necessary to thank Deleuze for having said so clearly that philosophical discussion is neither interesting, or perhaps even possible, unless it is directed towards an outside of thought.

This praise should be read with more than a slight nuance. For Laruelle goes on to argue that the authors of What is Philosophy? have another interest than directing thought towards an outside: namely, in what Laruelle distinguishes as “laying claim to philosophical naivete.” [Laruelle, “I, the Philosopher, Am Lying: A Response to Deleuze” 1] Laruelle declares the object of such naivete to be to force us in the corner, figuratively speaking — to make us give up the secret to our tricks. They do it so well, it works.

The effect is generic, perhaps even all-too-human: through its innocent provocation, the laying-claim to “philosophical naivete” itself inevitably calls for the clarification of anyone else’s ultimate presuppositions as regards their own relationship to philosophy. Laruelle calls this “innocent” laying-claim a paradox — Deleuze abandons disputation, while succumbing to the worst excesses of communication.

It would still be wholly necessary, notes Laruelle, to explain the reasons for abandoning communication, and precisely in terms of the reality of thought. Laruelle notes Deleuze’s behavior in this case is symptomatic: the ashes of a critique of communication end up communicating only the reasons for abandoning communication.

2.

Laruelle is rigorous on this point in particular: philosophy, if it it is able to pass for the paragon of dogmatism, the most complete form, is also that which inscribes communication, “relation,” into the essence of Being.

Here we are asked to consider Leibniz, and his concept and practice of communication. They are dogmatic and destroy themselves, Laruelle says, for they are communicated from his philosophy itself.

But what about Deleuze? It is the same paradox in reverse which affects Deleuze’s philosophy, Laruelle argues. A great deal is communicated, little understood — and even less utilized. And so perhaps, Laruelle continues, the problem is undecidable, at least in philosophical terms, since each philosophy defines for itself a concept of “communication.”

By doing so, they scramble any codes which would allow an “objective” evaluation of both communicational and non-communicational powers.

The combination of these powers, along with the power of miscommunication, defines the philosophical, according to Laruelle.

3.

This book, What is Philosophy?, is highly anticipated, critically acclaimed, and widely successful — in short, completely assured of its own force. It makes the affect of the philosophical depend upon science and art, but not “themselves” or practically, rather upon the philosophical concept of science or art. Not upon geology, but the philosophical concept of geology; not upon x, but the philosophical concept of x. Philosophy denies the autonomy of science and art, declares their immanent practices without concepts to be heretical.

This is the point, precisely, where philosophy encourages itself to deny the autonomy of art and science with even more subtlety: Laruelle observes the “concordant” style of the work, its “local” style of reciprocal respect. He grants this is undoubtedly that within it which is opposed to communication — but is it not, he declares, also its most unapparent ruse, its greatest danger, and also the remedy itself for whoever knows how to identify in it — this last sleight of hand?

4.
The self-affirmation of philosophy does nothing but trouble other philosophers.

Laruelle wonders: how do we make this immaculate book into a problem — a new type of problem, since it’s already the solution to the problem of what a problem is?

Suppose there is a book, Laruelle says, and that it is called What is Philosophy? Suppose further that it claims to respond to this question, and through its own existence, in its very manifestation.

It would therefore be impossible to discuss the book, because it would be at the very center of philosophy, and philosophy would be at the very center of this book. Because one does not converse with God, one does not communicate with natural phenomena.

One does not argue with Spinoza.

This book is absolute, Laruelle writes.

It has written, spoken, and made itself into a response to this question: ‘what can a book do — what can a philosophy book do, especially?’

In other words, it can do nothing but auto-write, write itself right in front of you.

And so, Laruelle asks, what could readers do — but get off on a philosophy being done without them?

Laruelle admits he can no longer give in to the tone of Deleuze’s voice, that is: if it is indeed a question of doing what they’ve done, rather than saying what they’ve said.

And perhaps, Laruelle quips, there still remains one last situation they have not foreseen: really doing what they have said they have done, or what they have only done by saying it, once again mixing doing and saying under the name of ‘creation’ — as all philosophers have.

It remains to do the immanence they say, Laruelle asserts. Laruelle is clear about the point here: not to comment on the work, not to make a problem of it, is “perhaps to no longer want to do something besides what they have done.”

Is it still perhaps possible, Laruelle asks, to really do what they have thought to do?

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11 thoughts on “Laruelle

  1. David says:

    Joseph

    Firstly congratulations and thanks to yourself and Taylor Adkins for a great blog site.

    I’ve not read Laruelle, but it seems a mistake to me to see Deleuze (and Guattari’s!) critique of ‘transcendent artifacts like consensus and communication’ as a form of philosophical self-enclosure: this would miss the connectivity, mixture/contamination of signs and codes, etc. inherent in their ‘philosophy of immanence.’ Their point, I think, is that there is no transcendent function (God, truth, universal reason, nature, society, humanity etc.) to ensure that what is agreed or communicated is ultimately actually the same, or indeed that those agreeing or communicating can agree or communicate ‘self-identically’ with themselves. However this is far from being intended as an argument for solipsistic inertia or the pre-eminence of an ‘arche-philosophy’ preceding all art and science. One of the points of ‘What is philosophy?’ is to enable philosophy to imagine multiple planes of immanence or consistency (rather than consensus) in which open-ended philosophical concepts can live and flourish with other ‘co-concepts.’ As someone interested in non-western philosophies, I find Deleuze & Guattari’s work one of the very few examples of western philosophy to allow other philosophies to be imagined while retaining their ‘indifference’ to western philosophy (Jullien’s work on Chinese philosophy perhaps being another more sustained example of such an approach). In other words, the ‘outside of philosophy’ for D&G is a multiple outside and it is this multiplicity that disables any transcendence.

    Just a few thoughts while considering Laruelle’s critique. All the best.

  2. But for Deleuze and Guattari, this “outside” of philosophy is always an outside “for” philosophy and never really the outside “of” philosophy. In other words, for all of the transversals in their work, D&G consistently close down the possibility that science could be autonomous, without the need of philosophy. This closing down is repeated with all areas until philosophy becomes the grand crossing guard for all thought, placing things in their proper place. The question with D&G should really be: Would science recognize itself as they describe them? I rather doubt it. Science, art, politics have no use for philosophy. They carry on perfectly well without it. Philosophy, however, becomes mystifying nonsense without science…empty feeling without art…actionless action without politics. The question is: Why can’t D&G stop translating everything into philosophy? Why can’t they recognize autonomous avenues (i.e. areas with no need for philosophy).

  3. “…He discovers the philosophical idiom, which now becomes alien to itself, but which remains an idiom precisely because it has become the language of the infinite…”

    Herein lies the true paradox: Philosophy has much to offer a world that is in great need of its wisdom, yet many philosophers speak a language that makes their valuable philosophies all but completely inaccessible to the world.

    I do not intend to criticize but to make a reasonable observation and estimate that 90% of the world population would not understand 90% of the ideas put forth on this blog site alone… yet I am sure much of them would benefit if they could…

    Personally, I have independently studied philosophy for two years and I still find much of it difficult to digest. And I have a graduate degree…

    Has philosophy become such an artform in and of itself that it can only be colored by certain language? Are philosophers trying to provide value to a wide audience or are they more interested in hearing themselves speak or in attempting to write longer sentences containing larger words than their contemporaries and predecessors?

    It is no wonder that the ancient eastern philosophies, such as Taoism and Buddhism, are so widely read, interpreted and imitated still today — they “say” much with less words, which, in my humble opinion, is much more of a difficult accomplishment than presenting the same idea with more words…

    Thanks, as always, for your thoughts…

    Kent

  4. Kent,

    You seem to be presenting the reader with a false dichotomy. It seems strange that philosophy could only appeal to a mass of people or only enjoy hearing themselves speak. Theoretical physics can only be understood by a handful of people, but even fewer would say that it only exists so that physicists can hear themselves talk.

    The mass appeal of eastern “philosophy” does not show that it is highly insightful or correct. It could just as easily be explained by pointing out that eastern philosophy (at least the particular variant popular in the west) is completely compatible with capitalism. It is fashionable nonsense, a perennial philosophy.

    I have always found it strange that one can read something, not understand it, and declare that the reading is nonsense. It is, of course, possible that some philosophy is nonsense, but it is equally possible that the philosophy in question deals with ideas that are not common sense and are difficult to understand.

  5. stellar:

    I am not sure if you are implying that my previous statement declares that because some philosophy is esoteric, and thereby difficult to understand, that it is “nonsense.” This is certainly not the case I am making — it is quite the opposite.

    I simply believe that philosophy has incredible value and that the world would benefit by sharing in such a treasure.

    I also did not say that the “mass appeal of eastern philosophy” shows that it is correct; however, its appeal is evidence of the power of simplicity. My perspective is that modern western philosophy would reach a broader audience if it were delivered in a way that the average person could understand, without necessarily diluting its intended message or meaning.

    I could be wrong in the following assumption but if an individual wants a certain audience to understand their message, they would deliver it in a way that the audience can understand. It would, therefore, be logical to conclude that many philosophers do not wish to extend their offerings beyond the realm of their own mind or beyond other philosophers who speak the same language — otherwise they would deliver their message in a way that the masses could understand. In my mind, this is potentially a tragic loss.

    On a much lighter note, I am quite ammused and find myself relating to philosophers who find value in simplicity after extensive exposure to “advanced” thought…

    “I prefer the company of peasants because they have not been educated sufficiently to reason incorrectly.” ~ Michel deMontaigne

    Thanks for provoking thought and for providing another perspective to widen my own…

    Cheers…

    Kent

  6. Fluxed 'Em says:

    Hi there. When Laruelle uses the term “communication” in his critique, is it the same thing that Deleuze and Guattari are talking about when they use the term in What Is Philosophy?

  7. I’d definitely agree with you there Joe. In fact, many of the terms Laruelle emphasizes throughout the work are directly from WIP. The first sentences begin with a mention of communication in an ironic way, and the last section coincidentally also ends with a remark about Deleuze’s (non)relation to communication.

    Having said that, I wouldn’t say that this term receives too much scrutiny for Laruelle. Besides the beginning and the end of the essay, the only real joke about communication is to highlight this antithetical moment when Deleuze remarks he has a loathing of debate. He spends much more time analyzing and focusing on other concepts.

  8. Hello Taylor and Joseph, where can I find the “Response to Deleuze”? Either in french or in english. I live in Mexico and there is not much of Laruelle’s work translated to spanish, but I’m very interested in this precise text, and just can’t manage to get my hands on it.
    Thank you

  9. Reblogged this on AGENT SWARM and commented:
    Entitled: “Notes on the Preface of Laruelle’s Critique of Deleuze”. Joseph Weissman’s notes on Laruelle’s critique of Deleuze and Guattari’s WHAT IS PHILOSOPHY, title: ” “I, the Philosopher, Am Lying: A Response to Deleuze”, published in English translation in THE NON-PHILOSOPHY PROJECT.
    It is noteworthy that WHAT IS PHILOSOPHY is not just a work by Deleuze, as Laruelle’s “A Reply to Deleuze” seems to imply. It was written in collaboration with Guattari, a non-philosopher, who Deleuze explicitly honours for taking him outside philosophy. Laruelle gives a one-sided “philosophical” reading of the book and comes to the predictable conclusion that it is still philosophy, i.e. “philosophy” in his Laruelle’s sense, which has next to nothing to do with Deleuze and Guattari’s sense as expounded in the book Laruelle is replying to.

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