Full Translation of the Dictionary of Non-Philosophy

comments 10
Laruelle / non-philosophy

I have recently finished translating Francois Laruelle’s (with his collectif) Dictionary of Non-Philosophy. Kime: Paris (1998). Please feel free to spread the knowledge far and wide, because I intend this to help encourage people to start engaging with non-philosophical concepts and their inevitable entry into all facets of thinking, including the philosophical.

I also want to thank Sid Littlefield and Anthony Paul Smith for their work on some of the definitions. It makes it all the more fitting that the translation would also be a collaborative effort. In that sense, I also want to thank Joe Weissman and Chris Eby for their intellectual support, as well as Ben Woodward and Nick Srnicek for their efforts in editing the work. Lastly, I want to thank Sid again for his constant efforts towards enriching my own intellectual development and those of many others who have the veritable luck to learn from him.

Also, last but first and foremost, let me extend my thanks to Laruelle and his collaborators (A.-F. Schmid, S. Valdinoci, T. Brachet, G. Kieffer, L. Leroy, and D. Nicolet) for their endeavors to make an economy of philosophical vocabularies, i.e. a non-philosophical dictionary, possible.

Here’s a link to the pdf. Enjoy!

The Author

Please feel free to email me about anything and everything that's on the site. I love every chance I get to engage in stimulating conversation. Email: tadkins613@hotmail.com


  1. Thanks, it’s about time philosophy was shared with all rather than having a few who deem themselves wise narrow it to a few by using a language that defies understanding. Complexity, if not expressed in simplicity is lost.

  2. In keeping with the above post, I confess that I was able to decipher some of the text after about ten hours, at which point I came to the preliminary conclusion that Laruelle is “simply” haha! trying to mathematize philosophy–not in the sense of using actual mathematics, but in the sense of de-intentionalizing its content. But why did he need to use so much jargon? So this statement would seem to be itself mathematical and devoid of “decision” ?

  3. uncannywords says

    I would love to read this document but when I try to download it it stops at 2.5 kb. any idea where the error might be?

  4. Hi,

    Excuse the naivete of the question. I read somewhere that non-philosophy’s relation to philosophy can be grasped using the analogy to geometry. Thus, non-philosophy’s relation to philosophy is much like non-euclidean geometry’s relation to euclidean geometry. I wondered if you could clarify as the analogy seems flawed.

    Both ‘non-euclidean’ and ‘euclidean’ are terms which refer to different forms of geometry. Strictly the analogy the term should not use the term ‘non-philosophy’ but ‘non-x philosophy’? Otherwise the analogy would have to be ‘non-geometry’?

    Or does non-philosophy genuinely mean ‘not a philosophy’ but more a science?

    I am trying to find my way into the thought of Laruelle.



    • Hi Nadim, great question. The “non-Euclidean” metaphor is dominant throughout Philosophie II and III, roughly 1987-2000 or so. To be clear, although in Philosophie II he will talk of non-philosophy as a scientific practice of philosophical statements, decisions, etc. as material, he begins to shy away from calling non-philosophy “science”. This is because for him non-philosophy in essence is identically philosophical and scientific…there is no hierarchy involved or warfare engaged between these two.

      Now, what does he mean by “non-“, and in particular the “non-Euclidean”? As in non-Euclidean geometry, non-philosophy begins with the idea that philosophy, like Euclid’s geometry, inhibits and constrains itself due to the encumbrance of certain axioms. For geometry, the parallel lines postulate: for philosophy, it is what Laruelle calls the Principle of sufficient philosophy (PSP), which states that philosophy of itself is (co-)constitutive of the real, and that because of this philosophy as thought suffices for the Real. This is what must be suspended for non-philosophy to “work”.

      Nevertheless, what is interesting is the change of terrain: instead of a “non-Euclidean philosophy”, we could say that Laruelle might be able to call non-philosophy a non-Heraclitean science (of) philosophy: this is because in his 3rd chapter of Philosophie et non-Philosophie (titled the “non-Euclidean mutation in thought”), the Heraclitean postulate is taken as the equivalent or parallel of the parallel postulate in geometry: “It signifies that the essence of the real, whether it take on the form of subjectivity, the Other, or any other figure, necessarily possesses one and only one structure: that of the Unity coextensive with the Dyad, a unity which proceeds through self-division and coupling of contraries”.

      Can you see the similarity? One and only one line for each point (Euclid); one and only one decision, etc. for each philosophical mode of dividing the real.

      Now, non-philosophy proceeds by dismantling this Heraclitean postulate and, rather than reactivating a Copernican revolution, follows what Laruelle will call a “Lobatchevskian or Riemannian mutation” in thought. This would assume that instead of one and only one essence of the real per decision (which leads to philosophical warfare with is unitary multiples of decisions, an inhibited, suffocating territoriality of decisions as war machines with war for their object), there are an infinity of attributes, essences, etc. for each decision or each object = x.

      Perhaps I would suggest this: your analogy that it should be non-geometry or non-x philosophy misses the point that Laruelle wants to make. He is not interested in intervening in geometry, but of generalizing the mutation that occurred in geometry in the 19th century for philosophy, I.e. a generalized form of mutation for it that is accompanied by a rigorous procedure. Also, it uses the generality of the non-, which is neither a no nor a not, nor a non in the negative sene, in such a way that an eponym is unnecessary or already generalized. Therefore, Laruelle will speak of a non-phenomenology or a non-Heideggerien phenomenology, a generalized deconstruction or non-Heideggerien deconstruction, etc. but the eponym is indifferent and already generalized once it is placed under the brackets of the non-.

      I hope that this helps. I plan to post on the non-Euclidean metaphor soon, which seems more necessary now that your comment shows that it is not an intuitive analogy. Before then, cf. the definitions in the Dictionary: generalization and generalized fractality, where the non-Euclidean metaphor is taken up directly.

      • That’s very helpful. I appreciate you giving me the time. I did struggle to follow and so I have another really basic ‘dumb’ questions…..if you have the patience to answer:

        So, would I be correct to suggest that what Laruelle is getting at is that every ‘philosophy’ is grounded on a decision?

  5. Pingback: François Laruelle: Dictionary of Non-Philosophy (1998/2009) at Monoskop Log

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