Translation of F. Laruelle’s “The Concept of an Ordinary Ethics or of an Ethics Founded in Man”

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ethics / Laruelle / non-philosophy / ordinary ethics / philosophy / philosophy of ethics / Uncategorized

The Concept of an Ordinary Ethics or of an Ethics Founded in Man

F. Laruelle. “Le concept d’une éthique ordinaire ou fondée dans l’homme.” Rue Descartes 7 (1993: 70-82).

Translated by Taylor Adkins (6/13/20)

            Ordinary ethics: the formula is ambiguous and perhaps must be abandoned. It does not designate the morality inscribed in everydayness, supposedly that of man in opposition to a philosophical ethics. On the contrary, it is opposed to these two ethics taken together in their disjunction and commonality. Philosophical ethics has always already decided what an ethics of everyday, common, vulgar, or gregarious man would be: an ethics of mores; the philosophical is the disjunction of the common and the philosophical. The ordinary is something different, another thought which is not directly philosophical without thereby denying philosophy: here it designates the point of identity and reality that makes the articulation of the philosophical and the common possible, a de jure identity prior to their disjunction and also to their synthesis, an identity that they both presuppose. We are not attempting a reconciliation of mores and philosophical ethics here because such an ethics is always already this reconciliation, whether it be achieved or thought in its de jure possibility. The identity of the ordinary—this must be said of everything that follows—neither is acquired philosophically (i.e. by a decision or scission) nor founds a philosophy, i.e. a becoming and a reconciliation. If the ordinary is not a simple philosophically masterable predicate, it is an absolute experience of thought which arises only from itself, from its internal, immanent, or transcendental nature, and for which an identifiable name is still lacking if not those of thought of the One or vision-in-One in opposition to philosophy qua thought of Being or of the One in the protraction of Being—i.e. qua thought of scission and difference. Vision-in-One is more primitive or primordial than ethics, and the ordinary is what founds ethics here, not the other way around.       

Why “ordinary” for “One”? Because, such as we understand it, the One qua purely immanent vision-in-One (rather than the transcendent cornerstone of philosophical systems) is nothing other than man’s essence, the essence of every man prior to the scission or transcendence that Being—Being or Consciousness—puts into her. What we call “ordinary man” is man’s essence such that it (is) given to itself and received without passing through the form of objectivity; it is affect of itself precisely in a non-transcendent mode and remains that way. This ultimate and transcendental life that constitutes man is prior to her disjunction into common consciousness and philosophical consciousness, affected or pathological subject and rational subject of the moral law, body and soul, etc. No anthropo-logy here, whether it be ethical or not.

This is therefore not the subject of the moral Law. The subject of the Law in general is subjected to the Law as well as identical with it. The subject is barred or divided by the form of the Law: empirical subject and rational subject, common man and philosopher, etc. Then the subject is doubled or redoubled by her necessary identification with the Law under the aspect of a universal subject which is the Law itself. In philosophy, ethics divides man (this is the condition of duty) and establishes itself in a real subject or in a supplementary ethics of the subject. Ordinary ethics a priori refuses (this is its very foundation) every division of man qua subject. On the contrary, it is founded on the indivision of man knowing herself, an indivision or experience which remains in its own immanence and of which we shall say that it is non-self-decisional and non-self-positional [non décisionelle (de) soi et non positionnelle (de) soi][1]. Ordinary ethics refuses to distinguish between two subjects, a distinction which is the condition of the “applies-to” [valoir-pour][2] … or philosophical type of normativity. Its problem is different: not to determine the will by the Law, but to determine the Law itself by man’s specific reality. In the philosophical element, moral normativity or legality—we will say it again—is not simply normative, for it exists two times, i.e. once as lacking (it is devalorized on behalf of philosophy) and once as excessive, in the sense that the moral Law, which is already transcendence and universality, in turn floats on a supplementary philosophical transcendence beyond and above man’s most radical finitude. To bring the exercise and above all the truth of ethics from the heavens and the earth back towards its real base (which is man’s immanence), to re-found it in man rather than in itself and the auto-position of the Law: this is the effect of ordinary ethics.

The guiding thread of the description and formulation of ethics is therefore no longer common moral judgment or its rational factum—i.e. a transcendent and authoritarian phenomenon. The thread is ordinary man, defined only by her immanence (to) herself, by the lived phenomenon of immanence. Ethics can be founded in ordinary man rather than in reason and the moral law, in interest and calculation or in values, etc. Here, founded means described by man rather than by reason or moral judgment qua guiding thread. This is to realize the fundamental precept: the law is made for man, not man for the law. Man is not subjected to the law but determines the moral or what remains of it.


By reality we therefore do not mean that which combines with possibility and is said of the latter, in the sense, for example, that the moral law in Kant is the instance of the real itself and in the sense that the foundation of the real is ethical; instead, by reality we mean that which is not itself ethical and thus is fully capable of determining ethics. Ordinary man does not have to search for the real in the possible of the Law, for she gives her reality to the Law and thus can transform it; she brings with her the primacy of the real over the possible and the primacy of life over ethics. Contrary to rational man, ordinary man does not accede to the Law, which is itself divided (this is the form of the Law qua law of the Law), but de jure accedes to the phenomenal reality of the Law, to the lived and immanent content of transcendence itself. Every ethics, every transcendent norm is phenomenally lived “in” man by way of a non-ethical, radically immanent or radically human mode. Thus, as Kant demanded, we do not found a new ethics or one more ethics, i.e. one more philosophy. We describe, more radically than any philosophy can, the ultimate (i.e. transcendental) lived givens of every possible, spontaneous, or philosophical ethics.

This is at the same time to liquidate Kantian moralism in the very position of the problem because ethics will be radically human only on condition that the human essence of ethics no longer itself be ethical. Indeed, the condition of a rigorous thought of ethics not itself impregnated by the moral is to exclude every ethics, i.e. every possible transcendence—transcendence [la transcendence] itself rather than such or such a norm—of the conditions of man’s essence or thought, and to treat it as a simple given. The essence of ethics is not itself ethical: this is an anti-Kantian and more profoundly anti-philosophical thesis that only takes on its full import because it can give a positive meaning to the non- of this non-ethical determination of ethics. What does this mean?

The problem is no longer to describe how finite human reason is capable of determining the will, but rather how absolutely finite human essence—more finite than any reason and autonomous by way of its essence before any ethics—is capable of globally determining ethical action or moral practice themselves. The problem is no longer how to determine the will morally, but: how to really or humanly determine ethics itself? Here, transformed, we rediscover the Kantian position of the problem: due to her radical immanence (to) herself, ordinary man, more so than Reason, manifests herself, describes herself, demonstrates herself as being by herself really practical, i.e. sufficient to determine ethics, to produce norms according to their reality and not simply according to their possibility. Man, qua internal transcendental experience, by definition contains within herself a transcendental deduction of the entire sphere of norms, and this deduction is not according to a transcendental deduction of a transcendent experience, but according to the immanent experience or reality she is by herself.

How do we concretely pose the problem no longer of ethical determination, but the determination of ethics itself? Ethics is always a problem of the identity of transcendence. To determine the ethical sphere is to identify it in every sense of the word. What is it that allows us to recognize—within ourselves, finite men—a non-theological reality, for example, of ethics, a non-transcendent reality of transcendence, a non-normative reality of the norm, etc.? What is it that also allows us—this is the same thing—to say ethics [l’ethique], to isolate it in its identity rather than leaving it in its infinite philosophical auto-foundation? What allows us to isolate it, i.e. to integrally subordinate it to man instead of letting it float on its authoritarian auto-sufficiency?

This problem is partially present in philosophy: the Law’s pure form or the Other man are experiences of identity, either of Reason (purified of its empirico-theoretical manifold) or of the Other as freed from the horizon of Being. But a thought of the ordinary pushes this exigence further. The non-ethical cause of ethics, that which must be able to determine it, is now the identity of man who is nothing but man, who is neither autonomous rational subject nor the Other person. Man alone contains the condition of a purer test [épreuve][3] of the identity of transcendence. The two contemporary attempts to renovate ethics, i.e. the identity of the Other, either by returning to Kant and Fichte or by resorting to Judaism, remain philosophical operations that search for this identity either in generalities too broad and too high for man (whether they be ontological or religious), or in the mixture of the empirical Self and the rational Self, or in the exacerbation of an ultra-rational transcendence (reason as reason of the Other man) that remains without real foundation or without immanence and suspended in the enigma of the Jewish tradition. In both cases, the absolute ground of immanence is lost or forgotten. We are seeking the identity no longer of Reason and the Will (which are still worldly and ontological transcendent instances) but of man in her ante-rational essence and ethics, which consequently presents itself to her as a contingent and no longer determining given. And we no longer seek this identity as an a priori synthesis but as an identity really given (to) self prior to any synthesis, an identity that is even a priori because it is a pure transcendental lived experience and acts as a determination of ethics, a determination we shall call (for all these reasons, even if it means explaining it later on) a determination-in-the-last-instance.


Philosophy is in general a system of doublets, i.e. divided or more than divided unities, differed/deferred or delayed unities, unitary correlations where one term is divided and redoubled by the other and thus by itself, save for a particular deviation, a particular decision, or a particular economy: here it is a question of an invariant that every philosophical decision obeys—whatever it may be. The consequence is that a doublet or an empirico-transcendental circle is so arrested or “blocked” by objectivity (for example the moral law or its norms) that it continues to “circulate” and therefore cannot provide a rigorous thought of its object: the ethical thought of ethics will itself be ethical, save for a few slight nuances, differences, or delays. The moral law and every philosophically describable norm are so purified that they have the internal form of a doublet: somewhat empirico-aprioritic for the most concrete norms, somewhat apriorico-transcendental for the moral Law: its circularity reveals itself in the fact that the Law is what prescribes obedience to laws; the essence of the Law is that there are laws and that obeying them is the object of this superior and constitutive law. This monotony of the Law is just as infinite as philosophy itself. These circular doublets exist—more or less interrupted and heterogeneous, more or less internalizing or productive—on a more elementary level between common mores and philosophical ethics, between these mores and the moral judgment of “good will,” between popular or everyday morality and its philosophical reformulation. But the essence of ethics remains interpreted in the very prolongation of an ethical given, of a fact or a transcendence: whether this involve sociological givens or a rational fact or the factum of moral judgment has little import. Reason, in its broadest generality and not simply in its ethical form, does not escape from this structure of the doublet, for it is a mixture of philosophical decision and empirical mores. And since a philosophy always has a transcendental or real dimension (or the equivalent), it is a mixture of empirical mores and reality, a transcendental morality that constitutes the possibility for every philosophy to detach from itself a section called “philosophy of ethics.”

This ethical intuitivity has the direst consequences. Since philosophy always begins by giving itself a transcendent fact or by supposing such a fact to be given, it confirms, whatever the reversals and displacements operating on it may be, that there are unexamined empirical givens, purely statistical mores of immediate morality that it internalizes, and, above all and simultaneously, the claim of this fact (whether rational or not, theological or sociological) to be valid as thought’s point of departure and as the norm of the labor of elucidating essence. In every philosophy there is not simply a bunch of “moral acid[4]” (as Nietzsche would say) or internalized mores, there is—even in Nietzsche himself—a moral and uncontested more-than-moral authority, the belief that there is, if not a moral judgment, then at least givens of morality, the belief in the reality (sufficient despite everything) of a moral fact which philosophy transforms, transmutes, transvaluates no doubt, but which it only destroys on the express condition of first confirming the authority of its existence itself, an existence supposed necessary or co-determinant by and for the structure of philosophical decision. The moral thus penetrates philosophy much more profoundly than Nietzsche imagined, for it penetrates the very essence of the philosophical, which supposes the prior recognition of the authority of an object or a given—even to critique or destroy them, for it is the philosophical critique of morality which is itself moral rather than real, still impregnated by decision or practice, finality or teleology. Philosophical critique dissolves the most massive, most empirical forms of morality but conserves or internalizes the very essence or form of authority—transcendence—and therefore cannot really eliminate it in the description of the essence of ethics. Philosophical critique itself remains a part of its object, the essence of ethics remains a part of spontaneous or supposed ethics, and the latter becomes necessary not only as simple material or neutral object of philosophical labor, but as that which contributes to determining the essence of this labor itself.

Only a rigorous, non-circular, scientific description can simultaneously suspend decision and finality in the description of the essence of ethics—i.e. the authority of a supposed given or of that which is given with and in the authority of exteriority (of tradition, mores, philosophy itself, etc.). An ordinary ethics is instead the result of a heteronomous labor upon this supposed ethics, which would serve only as material here.

In philosophy, supposed ethics is more than a material; it is a cause or a codetermination of philosophy itself. In non-philosophy, supposed ethics is reduced to the state of simple material or occasion. The ordinary implies an occasionalist conception of supposed ethics.


The same description and analysis can be formulated on the theme of normativity. We call normativity or legality the specific causality of the norm or law, the fact of applies to…which conceals all types of prescriptions beyond hypothetical or technical necessity: the theoretical or rational necessity of a functional system of rules; the normativity of “true” idealities; that of ideal norms themselves; and above all the categorical necessity of pure reason, etc. Our only interest here is the invariant of these various prescriptions, the applies to…Its phenomenal structure in philosophy is always the same: it is a universal that intentionally aims at the experience of a particular or a singular in a mode of necessary application, or, more exactly, of determination; with the reserve that the latter is neither conditional or technological, nor automatic and theoretical, but precisely to be realized, on the order of the ought-to-be or of a necessity which has no type of technological or theoretical constraint. This is still a functional relation, but it is simultaneously impregnated by a categoricity superior to that of technical necessity and by an equally superior contingency or precariousness. What is important here? It is that the applies to…is doubled and the same, simultaneously divided and redoubled in such a way that we no longer know what is ethical and what is philosophical, with the two determinations switching places. The analysis of valence—of “valance[5]”—varies according to the philosophical decisions: from the Platonic agathon to the Nietzschean type of valence-of-valence. But here the same invariant still dominates. The very idea of necessity or normativity, of applies-to…in general, whatever its theoretical or practical mode, this idea of an intentionality of valence, is ambiguous: it is simultaneously the specifics of ethics (that which every philosophy seeks to isolate and describe) and a philosophical operation of the most general which comes to seize it [s’en emparer][6] and redouble it. This mixture is characteristic of the philosophy of ethics and is inevitable, but it penetrates normativity or ethics itself, simultaneously devalorizes it and overvalorizes it in the same stroke—and in both cases on behalf of philosophy.

No doubt it is characteristic of the philosopher to make virtues of the necessities or obstacles he encounters; but perhaps man determines ethics, its special transcendence, without passing through philosophical mediation. The term ‘normativity’ or ‘valence’ hides an amphibology for it: the confusion of a purely ethical necessity with a philosophical necessity or necessity of an authority, which perhaps does not necessarily reinforce the first, which attenuates it on the contrary by dissolving it and changing its nature. Ordinary man is the most radical way to do justice to the demand that appears in Kant and Levinas without being clearly identified in their work, that of the autonomy of ethics with respect to the ontological. Does ethics have a specific and irreducible kernel or not, an original essence of necessity or ethical normativity? Or is it a simple mode of philosophical decision—whether rational or other, albeit still philosophical? Ordinary man is identically the postulation that there is a specific, proper, internal essence of ethics and that it is not reduced to philosophy’s invariants.

Is this then to entrust this care of ethics to itself rather than to ontology, to a logic, to an onto-logic in general? Is this to redouble ethics again, to devote it to auto-position, to the ethical-All, or even to the exteriority of a tradition like the Judaic? Precisely such an auto-position, but also a care or a concern, but also a vigilance toward the Other would be philosophical positions and procedures that would surreptitiously suppose one of them. Auto-position or extra-position—the extra-territorial position of ethics—are solutions subjugated to philosophical naiveté and, from this point of view, could always be deconstructed. Instead, it is a question of accomplishing the following paradoxical gesture: the heteronomous foundation of transcendence outside itself, its non-redoubling, its absolute de-position is the condition of its purest test and is realized by way of the means and means alone of man’s radical immanence or autonomy. Ethics can be made autonomous with respect to philosophy only by removing from transcendence its philosophical type of autonomy and authority due to auto-position—to concern or alterity—in order to completely “found” it in the only non-philosophical form of autonomy, which is that of the essence of ordinary man.

This is how we shall distinguish between normativity, i.e. the normative or imperative function, which here will be suspended (but not destroyed), and the real or phenomenal content—the reality rather than the possibility—of this function or of prescriptive statements. In a general way, we shall no longer explain it by itself, by re-turning it to itself or philosophically re-folding it over itself. If ordinary man is defined by a radical immanence deprived of all transcendence, she will not allow herself to be taken advantage of by ethical objects, by any normativity, but will test the reality of the latter (i.e. ethical transcendence) in an immanent lived experience. She will distinguish between the real kernel of normativity or of transcendence and its “transcendent” claim to spontaneously apply to man and will dissociate transcendence from its traditional ethical usage as effective normativity, supposed ethical causality on man.

Let’s recall that the problem ordinary ethics poses and resolves is not the problem of spontaneous or philosophical ethics: how do we act according to which rules in the World, History, and the City? But: how do we act according to which rules on the given of these ethical rules? The question is no longer: what do we do with the ethical or moral, how do we conserve and found the moral, how do we act so that our action remains moral? But: what do we do globally with the moral itself, with every possible ethics, be it spontaneous or philosophical, naïve or already founded by a philosophical decision? This is therefore not a philosophical problem because it supposes that it is possible to isolate and reduce the sphere of ethics and philosophy to itself (the sphere of ethical decision). Ordinary ethics does not explain how and why we obey laws or not—an obedience which is an inheritance and an archaism—but what we must and can do with ethics. The claim to explain the reason for our obsession merely arises from the domain of philosophy. This obedience and its difficulties are instead a given for ordinary ethics—but nothing more—and is required as its simple material. Ordinary ethics does not ask about the possibility of this given but bases this given on its reality and formulates rules of usage and transformation of this supposed given.

And yet this is no longer a meta-ethics, an ethics of ethics, which would be a new philosophy. It is what could be called a “non-ethics,” i.e. the rigorous thought of rules which are more universal than those of ethics because they make it possible to transform them globally, thereby allowing us to produce a new orientation, a new “position” of the ethical sphere taken globally in relation to man as its real foundation.

Ordinary ethics is neither Greek nor Jewish. Its foundation is no longer ontological or anthropological, for it no longer rests upon the tradition of a radical transcendence of speech or of the text, which ignores the necessity of an immanent or human foundation. Ordinary ethics is the ethics (of) man qua autonomous and solitary individual in her multiplicity; it is neither an ethics of Being—an ought-to-be—nor an ethics of the Other man. Its point of view is that of science, of the pure description of a reality; it is no longer philosophy’s practico-teleo-logical point of view. That point of view, for example, redoubles the effect or causality of the norm in its essence; on the contrary, without denying the normative effect of the norm, the determination-effect of practical reason upon the will, ordinary ethics nevertheless stops redoubling them and contents itself with describing the kernel of reality, the kernel of pure phenomenal experience, which is that of the norm and its effect, of the law and its power of affecting the will or determining it. If philosophy is a practice of determination—i.e. of decision and teleology united, of praxis and finality—science, such as it is practiced here, is a description of the already determined, a description of the real.

Precisely due to the fact that the essence of practice is not practical or the essence of ethics is not ethical for it, ordinary ethics is a radical phenomenology, a phenomenology so radical that it reduces the logos itself and its ethical variants by way of the means of the radically thought phenomenon, i.e. by way of the most immanent phenomenal lived experience. It describes the phenomenal states-of-affairs of ethics (for example, those of the Other, of the Law, of spontaneous or supposed Mores, etc.) and describes them by no longer taking them as guiding threads—they are simple materials or occasions—but instead by taking the “noetic” immanence of the most radical phenomenal lived experience as its guide. If there is a noema of the Law, for example, it must be described not by way of phenomenological auto-position but from the strict point of view of human noesis, which is here understood as real immanence.


We shall gather together all these problems by saying that ethical philosophy supposes an ethical intuitivity, an ethical objectivity, or an ethical representation considered as necessary, i.e. as transcendent ethical objects in which the thought of ethics or of its essence is supposed to be necessarily related as if to an intuition which brings the given from the outside, an intuition that does not give a simple material but is supposed as constitutive of the very essence of ethics. It is obviously this kind of intuitivity and this kind of naiveté that ordinary man suspends so as to extract and describe the most immanent phenomenon of ethics.

According to this destination of the ordinary, a twofold labor upon ethical transcendence is necessary:

1) purify it of its last empirical contents, those that philosophy still internalizes at least by way of their idealization; extract an absolutely pure “formality” of transcendence outside every “pathological” content. Nevertheless, it cannot be a question of a formalist purism and of a rigorism, a purism of pure reason, but a question of a suspension of every ethical intuitivity, i.e. of the necessary reference of thought to a supposed given ethical object that constitutes this thought.

2) for it is necessary to then simplify it of itself (i.e. more exactly, of its rational redoubling), to extract a transcendence which no longer has the form of a philosophical doublet, insofar as every philosophy is founded upon such an intuitivity, objectivity, or representation.


In reality, these two tasks are strictly the same and together amount to describing a test of transcendence that no longer has the philosophical form of the empirico-ideal mixture and is thereby delivered from intuitivity: neither ethical rationalism nor ethical empiricism but a non-philosophical posture that simultaneously reduces the rational form of transcendence (i.e. its decisional and positional form—its ontological form in the broad sense) and its empirical contents or at least the empirical reference required by every formalism qua philosophical decision. The true task is to transcendentally reduce or suspend the entire sphere of supposed ethics, in which formalism or rationalism as well as the material phenomenology of values still participate. True rigorism is not itself moral but scientific, and ethics (i.e. autonomy) must itself be treated in an absolutely heteronomous way. This is a question of substituting scientific rigor for moral rigorism.

The purest transcendence is therefore conflated neither with a certain determined ontic norm, nor with the rational form of the law (which is still ontic), nor with ontological difference (to which any ethical decision whatsoever can always be reduced). Formalism must prolong itself by way of the reduction of the very form of the law, of the law of form, of practical reason, and not merely of moral empiricism. What remains of it, what is the residue of this reduction of philosophical transcendence in ethics? We cannot fully describe it here in detail. But all the aporias of the philosophical doublet are resolved by ordinary ethics:

1) The Law or Transcendence must be given in a human way and for man, i.e. by man rather than by itself and on the grounds of ethical belief. Transcendence is founded in man’s purely immanent essence, not the other way around.

2) The Law, Transcendence, must be given in itself or as real insofar as it is neither ontic, nor ontological, nor theological. That ethical transcendence be given in itself, in flesh and blood, or in its reality might bring to mind a phenomenological realism. The greatest apriorism (empty of all transcendent content—even of form) and the greatest realism (empty of all empirical content) are identical here. Neither formalism nor empiricism but a priori realism: that’s what will appear in the non-ethical description of the phenomenal content of Transcendence or of the Law.

3) Despite its human and only human foundation, which is not itself transcendent, the transcendence of the Law reduced in this way applies to man but ultimately in a non-authoritarian manner. Indeed, it still determines, but it is instead the reality of the ethical (and super-ethical or philosophical) determination of man in the World, in the City and History, etc. Better yet: Transcendence is here the experience of a material or more exactly real (neither formal nor material) a priori that transforms the supposed (spontaneous or philosophical) ethical givens and thereby determines neither man in general nor her action in the World but the action of man upon the World, upon philosophy itself, and more particularly upon the fact of ethics taken globally.


Ordinary ethics is no longer “sufficient” or authoritarian because it no longer claims to determine the very essence of man but is instead given and determined by man. Only “radical” man through her essence can liquidate every teleology and finality and contain the non-ethical essence of ethics. And, likewise, ordinary ethics is not supposed ethics with its unassailable empiricism. Ordinary non-ethics is not the possibility but the reality of human practice over philosophical or supposed ethics, a practice which does not itself obey the latter’s norms, which are not really absolute but always in danger of being involved in philosophy’s more or less vicious circle.

By calling upon a purely human or immanent non-anthropological foundation, ordinary ethics not only rejects, for example, the Kantian position of the problem as too empirical, but sets out to protect Transcendence from its internalization and philosophical dissolution. In philosophy, which suffers from two contrary and complementary flaws, there is still too much of the moral, there are still too many simply idealized empirical mores and not enough authentic ethical sense, i.e. Transcendence. Always too much Earth and Heaven at the same time. Philosophy is a compromise, a craftily and technically regulated mixture of historico-social mores and transcendence. Ethics can only become pure if it reduces the very form of the Law, Reason; but in order to be real, rather than another quasi-religious empiricism of the Other person, it must be founded in man’s essence. Not between Heaven and Earth: ordinary ethics is neither of Heaven or Earth, but of man, who is not their difference, who instead takes her essence from herself. Only the greatest immanence—purely internal immanence with neither transcendence nor internal relation—can found the reality and validity of prescriptions in a non-ethical way or outside moral authority. It is therefore necessary to unleash the rules and nature of this practice that acts upon the given of ethical rules themselves.


[1] [This is Laruelle’s syntactical way of indicating a suspension-in-immanence of the reversibility of certain prepositions, the most common example of which is the preposition “of.” By bracketing this preposition, Laruelle reduces the duplicity of this preposition (which acts both as partitive and genitive) and renders it uni-lateral or facing-from-the-One: all of this is explained in a dialogue in his book En tant qu’Un [Qua One], where he suggests that the bracketed words should be read performatively as having only one parenthesis (the left parenthesis), and the right parenthesis should be elided by the reader as lifted-in-immanence. For a French reader, this bracketing sometimes also has the effect of making the word on the right-hand side of the parenthesis acts as an adjective (insofar as in French and other Romance languages—with a few standard exceptions—adjectives are placed after the modified noun and not before). For this lengthy phrase, I have chosen to render it as it would be read by a French speaker, substituting hyphenation for parentheses—TN.]

[2] [The verb valoir has a wide range of meanings, including “to be worth”, “to cost”, “to be equivalent with”, etc. Here the notion of being “valid-for” something/someone means essentially to apply in all cases, or to “hold”, as in universal laws “holding” for all cases. The reader should keep this in mind with the discussion of values and valences that follows—TN.]

[3] [This word in French has a variety of meanings, and Laruelle always uses this ambiguity to its fullest extent: as a noun, it means “test,” “ordeal,” “trial,” including a scientific trial, which is evident in the fact that it contains the word preuve, i.e. “proof.” As a verb, it can indicate “to test,” but also “to sense,” “to feel,” “to experience,” etc.—TN].

[4] [The French word here is moraline, and it is a transliteration of Nietzsche’s neologism Moralin, which combines the word “moral” with the suffix usually associated with pharmacological substances: see section 2 of The Antichrist, where the H.L. Mencken translation (1918) renders it as “moral acid”—TN.]

[5] [This is Laruelle’s neologism and is reminiscent of many other neologisms he has coined with the silent a/e shift of Derrida’s différance in mind, a doubling or redoubling that cannot be heard but only read—TN.]

[6] [This phrase is the same one generally used in French to translate the notion of “seizing the means of production”—TN.]

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