F. Laruelle. “Programme.” La Décision philosophique 1 (1987): 5-43.
translated by Taylor Adkins 7/2/20
- A science for philosophy
Let’s suppose that we will formulate a project and that it will be necessary to exposit a program, this would be the manifesto: don’t do like philosophers, invent philosophy! Radically change its practice! Multiply its potentialities! Treat it experimentally as a whatever material! Is this possible? We are posing the problem otherwise: this is real.
We have the means to substitute a non-philosophical practice of philosophy for its “philosophical” practice, to thereby open it to a new career, and, at the same time, to disconnect philosophy from philosophers alone and to give it to man. Against Plato and the Greco-dominant tradition, we can demonstrate that “the multitudes are philosophers.”
Then who are we, we who call ourselves “every man” and “multitudes”? We are only subjects (of) science. Having ceased being the subjects of philosophy, by it and for it, we finally have the power and the right to treat it as a whatever object and to draw effects from it that philosophy had refused us until then…
We all know this, but philosophy spoke in our stead and substituted its knowledge for ours: there is a form of thought even more primitive than the philosophical, an image of things even more just than it—science. It is not a question of the sciences taken in the regional particularity of their objects and their methods, nor of science [la science], which corresponds to them as this abstract generality that here and there one would like to substitute for philosophy. We recognize it neither in its epistemological transvestism nor in its bad positivist absolution, and we refuse its philosophical image in general. This is a question of “Vision-in-science,” i.e. a question of what every science as such gives and requires of the real in an autonomous way. By the name science, we understand two things. On the one hand, its essence: for it has an essence proper, rigorously distinct from philosophy’s. On the other hand, the science of this essence of science: a particular science located alongside others, yet whose object is their essence-of-science, what we call a transcendental science. That’s the discovery: there is a vision-in-science more primitive in its access to the real than philosophical vision, and there is a transcendental science that has the power to constitute philosophy into its object without thereby destroying it or transforming it in this operation. Let’s add another effect: it finally delivers us from philosophical falsifications that make science sometimes into a sub-philosophical knowledge, sometimes into a simple substitute of philosophy…We therefore possess a new point of view anterior to philosophy itself. And we can freely draw from this vision effects for philosophy, effects of secondarization, loss of authority, and practical gain.
Several tasks can now be specified. First, and to follow a pedagogical order, to introduce philosophers to the experience of science rather than to impose this new point of view on them, we characterize the ancestral authority of a certain Principle of sufficient philosophy that founds the philosophical Authorities in general or the unitary, Greco-unitary, style in thought.
Then we elucidate the internal reasons that make science into a paradigm of thought completely distinct from the philosophical paradigm, anterior to it, and irreducible to its “epistemological” effects. We draw the conclusion from this that, without being dismembered or devalorized, philosophical Decision can fall under a special science and that it constitutes one of the last (if not the last) of the scientific Continents.
Finally, we are describing the other extremity of the program through which it opens onto a radical future: the possibility of an unlimited pragmatics of philosophy. If there’s still a finality, more apparent qua finality than real, it is in fact this: only a radical science provides the foundation and the right of multiple non-philosophical usages of philosophy. Not only does it give the possibility of regarding it (if not from elsewhere, at least from within the optics of a finally rigorous knowledge); but also, freeing its practice from the authority of the Principle of sufficient philosophy, it makes possible a pragmatics finally adapted to philosophical Decision itself. No longer being a sub-product of Decision but founded on science, it is open by definition to non-philosophical possibles. No doubt this means: rather than philosophizing on right, art, science, etc., you can do the inverse and treat philosophy as a jurist, an artist, a scientist, an architect, a man of the people, etc. But on the twofold condition—you can do it now and by way of this science—of respecting the nature and specificity of its operation, and of not injecting it under philosophical authority with simple objects and simple metaphors taken from elsewhere. Science has already programmed this, and you have always done this without knowing it: you come too late, which means you are only philosopher. It is no doubt a question of experimentally treating philosophy based on your needs, your practices, your syntaxes, but on condition of proceeding in a truly “scientific” and consequently “experimental” manner, on condition of really freeing yourself from the grip and bewitchment of the Principle of sufficient philosophy and not circularly reintroducing objects or methods you have already, at some other point, selected from it.
To summarize this opening: insofar as science precedes philosophy and relieves it of any hope of returning, it alone gives you the foundation to treat philosophy in a maximum of distance and in an alterity that you will finally not be given by an arbitrary decision (like philosophers do) but that you will have received as ordinary man, what you are as subject (of) science. This Other-than-philosophy on which you will now be able to ground yourself comes from you, who are from the start nothing but this subject (of) science. It will take on an essential property from science, a property definitively non-negotiable for philosophy, which is namely the property of being uni-lateral and of uni-lateralizing philosophy. This is why, rather than a question of “secondarizing” philosophy, it is a question of uni-lateralizing it or displacing it outside its authority and its spontaneous practice even before it is to be displaced. Philosophy does not have to be displaced, it already is displaced—by you as man. That’s what you guarantee science, but what as philosopher you ignore.
We will establish the economy of this program, its gains and losses, later on. On the losses side, it already fully implies renouncing this dominant auto-referential practice (like the history of philosophy and the labor of texts) or practicing them in a completely different way. Traditionally and in its naïve or spontaneous practice, philosophy, far from being treated within a science and a pragmatics that would result from it, is simply related viciously to itself just as it gives itself the right to do. This auto-philosophical prejudice is called philocentric Faith or Authority and must be unmasked: in general, obviously, but also in its main method, which is the historicizing and textual relation to philosophy. The history of philosophy is not prohibited, but it no longer founds and limits the practice of thought. The most elaborate forms of this naïve practice, like the deconstruction of metaphysical texts, do nothing but lead back to philocentrism and must in turn be founded in science, since the Other-of-philosophy is finally elaborated in its essence and in its reception by the subject qua subject (of) science and stops being supposed arbitrarily as every philosophical Decision left to its natural “play” does. The scientific foundation of philosophy’s deconstruction implies the abandonment of the philosophical forms of deconstruction. And in general, the radical renewal of philosophical practice passes through the scientific abandonment of philosophical Faith and the downfall of the Principle of sufficient philosophy.
On the gains side, this displacement of Decision—insofar as it is acquired by science before philosophy can give a hallucinatory reality to its authoritarian pretention—already opens a field of unlimited experimentations on philosophy, a future without logical restriction, without logos or futurologos.
If we want something…it would first be to put philosophy on its only real base, that of science; to constitute it into the object of a science, for science implies by itself that knowledge is worth more than faith and must take faith as its object; to thereby detach it from itself, its history, and its bewitchment (critique of every philosophy’s transcendental Illusion); finally, to make possible a generalized pragmatics that is connected to philosophy itself.
We will finally know why we philosophize, for we certainly do not know as of yet: for the 2,600 years that there have been thinkers who have done nothing but philosophize “ahead” of the research of a problematic reality, none have been able to give ultimate and rigorous, non-circular or non-philosophical reasons for its endeavor, which remains authoritarian and absurd to the extent of this absence. Philosophizing with awareness of the cause, we will finally do so for positive reasons rather than because of a so-called “need to philosophize” or because of a “call to think” that do nothing but express about man the seduction and prestige of a certain “objective philosophical Appearance”…
- The Principle of sufficient philosophy
Let’s devote yet another moment to the customs of philosophers, let’s now pose the symmetrical question of the preceding: what is it that we no longer want? We reject the Principle of sufficient philosophy, we overall dismiss the philosophical Authorities.
How do philosophers proceed when they prepare a critical operation? They arbitrarily give themselves—in an unfounded way, as a Decision with which they identify themselves (this is its un-decidable side)—a foundational distinction, a primordial division whose realization or becoming they assume responsibility for. They take charge of this Decision (which has already preceded them) without really being able to ground it. They remain content with wanting to ground it by relating it to itself. This is all they can do and all it can allow: to want to be real rather than to be…This is philosophy’s Faith, Authority, or Sufficiency.
And yet this distinction—precisely because it is nothing but a division, a demarcation, a distribution, whatever the very diverse manners in which they conceive it—is always too narrow or too restrictively defines the object of critique. By definition, insofar as this object results from an operation on itself or from a primordial Decision, it is always inferior and unequal to philosophy as the totality of this operation. It is never philosophical Decision as such that is the object of critique but merely one of its restricted or inferior modes. This operation allows philosophy to conserve itself, allows its faith and authority to reinforce themselves. Whence these adversaries that it gives itself with authority, which are necessarily already disarmed and weaker than it and which avoid it having to call itself into question: “representation” and “presence,” “identity” and “gregariousness,” “metaphysics,” “finitude of the understanding,” the “natural attitude,” “logocentrism,” the “sensible” and “becoming,” etc. Philosophical Authority needs these ad hoc adversaries. For example—this is an example found in the current state of philosophical practice: it needs the Principle of Reason, with the University that this principle founds and the scholarly practices that derive from it. The critique of the University and of the Principle of Reason is a facility (perhaps a necessary one) but nothing more, and philosophy is made to go easy on this genre of advantages that must be constantly looked after.
There is thus a principle of sufficient philosophy, and it states at least this: Everything can be philosophized, nothing is without a possible philosophy. We shall return to this pretention. The first task is to learn to see this principle: it is strong, more extensive than the Principle of Reason, which it allows the critique and mediation of but which also serves as its protective shield. The questions of foundation, of reason, of their multiple senses, of the genealogy of reasons, of the West’s destined arché, etc. remain inside a more powerful and less apparent principle, under the authority of which these questions are posed behind-the-scenes. Beyond the University, its practices of philosophy, its dominant practice (the history of philosophy), beyond the labors that relay them over its texts and its institutions, there is still another, one last Authority that functions with an effectiveness quite superior to that of the Principle of Reason. To measure it against its beyond, to play out the difference of Reason and Being, of Reason and Thought, is to reiterate Decision and its lack of foundation, is to once again liberate its will, which is just as vast as its faith and its naivety. This is ultimately to avoid the only question still necessary: what do we do with philosophy?
It is possible on this already given base of science—restored to its non-philosophical essence—to clarify the Principle a bit more. It doesn’t just say: “Nothing is without a possible philosophy; everything can be philosophized”; it also says: “philosophy suffices for everything and suffices unto itself, it is the absolute experience of thought.” The two statements are in reality equivalent for it. If everything can be philosophized, the whole itself can be philosophized; either immediately, as in “metaphysics,” or give or take an unlimited or interminable becoming, as in certain contemporary thoughts. Philosophy’s most radical claim, its strongest and most naïve belief, its authoritarian and unitary will are the following: it wants to be and believes itself to be co-extensive with the real; this claim holds for it and even holds forp a real that would potentially resist, that would form a remainder or withdrawal. It at least supposes—the ultimate supposition—that it is inseparable from the real, and that this real-Other, this real-Remainder, must in every way still account with it.
The Principle of sufficient philosophy is therefore distinguished from the Principle of Reason on several points:
- It is less apparent, less manifest than the latter; it does not have any formulas as such in the history of philosophy, perhaps because it is the air philosophy breathes, its “air” or “allure.” Philosophy may isolate the Principle of Reason and play with its restrained splittings that remained within it and over which it had ultimate mastery; it may not isolate itself in a sufficiently radical way. Its adherence to itself, its naivety, that of its practical and decisional style, its manner of being that conflates it with its spontaneous exercise are such that at most it can distinguish itself from a remainder that is just as arbitrary and non-founded as it. Incapable of being an actual science of itself, i.e. of no longer willing itself in a unitary way but of allowing itself to be the real object of a science, it oscillates between two types of self-relation: as meta-philosophy and as super-philosophy. These are two ways of varying its naivety and its authoritarian pretention, these are not ways of destroying it. The real critique of the unitary paradigm supposes that we have access, from the start and before it, to another more primitive paradigm, one that expresses the non-illusory thought of the real: this is science as such or as vision-in-science.
- Philosophical authority does not completely manifest itself in the same way as that of Reason. No doubt the latter, as soon as it’s interpreted as Principle and therefore as unitary, asymptotically approaches the circle of philosophical Decision. To provide reason, to require the foundation, the cause, the ground, the motivation, the erection or the institution: that’s no doubt a requirement or a superior ethics of thought that certain philosophies and therefore philosophy may assume. Nevertheless, we have not remarked enough on an ambiguity that moreover explains the possibility of a philosophical interrogation concerning a beyond of rationality. “Reason” designates just as much a middle or intermediate stage of the knowledge of the real as its beyond, as its ultimate or superior stage, and much more the former than the latter. Reason no doubt grounds, but it grounds in a still incomplete or insufficient way: that’s because it is merely the order of the Universal and because in turn it needs a superior, complete, or self-related (and consequently absolute) foundation. This is where the philosophical as such is required. Only the philosophical, beyond Reason and even beyond its Principle, can assume this foundation.
The requirement to have-to-philosophize or to become philosopher is therefore greater and even more sublime than to have to give reasons and reason. Ultimate Unity is the very order of philosophy, an order superior still to that of the Universal. Philosophy is distinguished in general from the Principle of Reason, just as (if you will, this is one case) the transcendental is distinguished from the a priori. With respect to phenomena, philosophy is an authority that is even more unitary than Reason. Speaking from beyond Reason, it deploys a strategy quite superior to Reason’s own and makes reason into its instrument.
- The Principle postulates—also positing them in this gesture, positing them or realizing them as postulates that constitute position—four things:
- a) there is a duty-to-philosophize, a superior requirement or an ethics requiring to philosophize it even beyond the rational requirement and its satisfaction; a pure, a priori, and more-than-synthetic (from the start unitary) will to philosophize. This unitary requirement is the secret of the famous “need-to-philosophize.”
- b) there is also a power-to-philosophize; one can, it is possible, to philosophize: on the basis of philosophy already-there, of its tradition, of its texts, of its institutions, and more generally on the foundation and basis of a certain objective Appearance in the anonymous form of which it announces itself: philosophy’s phantasm, body, reservoir, or capital. It is possible to philosophize both from the de jure point of view as from the technical means (they are in reserve within objective philosophical Appearance and are available), and to philosophize about anything with neither distinction nor acceptation of experience, and also about the whole as such.
- c) there is a sufficiency of this power: to philosophize suffices for everything, i.e. (so philosophical unitarily concludes) for the real to make it advene to what it is, to manifest it as such, as what it is absolutely. Philosophy is the absolute or last supplement, the supplement of the Absolute, of which everything has need so as to finally become sufficient, which is requirable by every man who is sufficiently a man, which is ultimately also ontologically and technically possible. It is on this point above all that the Principle of philosophy is distinguished from the Principle of Reason: it suffices for everything and for the Whole, for the real in general and in its unity, whereas Reason suffices for each thing from the sole point of view of the universality of knowledge.
- d) what does this absolute requirement to provide reason but finally in an absolute or unconditioned way entail? The tripartite structure of the Principle of sufficient philosophy assembles and accumulates for the ultimate supplementary leap into an auto-requirement that identically constitutes its strength and its naivety. There is a calling or an imperative to philosophize, simultaneously more constraining and more precarious than the call to give reason. But it is prolonged and accomplished in a circle that it makes with itself, the circle of philosophy’s tradition and becoming. This is what forms the stability and inappearance of its authority, its necessity, or its objectivity. There is an objective philosophical Appearance that functions as an absolute calling. The Principle is such that it wants to be evaluated by way of itself: this is the auto-justification of philosophical Faith, the infinite mirage of its circle.
The contemporary attempts to overflow it arise from the same spirit. There are in fact two extreme solutions that they wish to avoid: the Principle’s (classical metaphysical) auto-foundation and its abyssal lack of all foundation, a lack, furthermore negated by the philosophical will, which wills nothingness, the absence of all philosophy—thus still philosophy—rather than will nothing—the Principle’s ultimate ruse to save its authority. This solution is not delivered from the “unitary” Authority that it redivides, re-spaces to maintain it—despite everything—in an ultimate and particularly purified form. This is to acknowledge that we are always responsible for philosophy, that in it our essence of man and the essence of science are still at stake, that man is subjected to philosophy—both to the philosophical and the non-philosophical, a double authority of being divided—before being radical subject (of) science. To want to divide, to defer/differ auto-philosophical care, to want to simply delay philocentrism, one merely demonstrates what one assumes is its basic prejudice, the Principle’s authority: philosophy is real and holds for the real, or at least is inseparable from or undecidable for it. The prudence in naivety remains a naivety and protects it in the last resort. This is simply to put a supplementary statement in the statement of the Principle: “nothing is without philosophy, if not the real, the Other than philosophy, thus philosophy itself as Other.” And this is to once again ratify the real validity to which it lays claim over the faith of its effective existence alone.
Philosophical authority cannot be converted, partially inhibited, or simply reserved. With science, we have the means to demonstrate that its sufficiency does not suffice to think the real and, for example, that it is impossible to conclude from the need-for-philosophy, which is nothing but an effect of philosophy’s imperative, to the real sufficiency of philosophy.
Philosophy’s claim on every man, whom it orders to will the absolute, a calling addressed without delay and without escapeways, this superior right, this superior politics, this superior technics, this superior knowledge over him: such is the content of phenomenal givens that constitutes the reality of the philosophical Authorities: what every man, from their point of view, must know, what every man must identify his force-of-thought with insofar as it is summoned there. Whence the weight, the unlimited debt that we can differ/defer, albeit all the better to assume it; the responsibility imposed on us to have to respond to the Principle and to have to respond to it: to take care of and concern for it, to be interested in it, to be able to provide a therapeutics, but also an economy, a physics, an aesthetics, etc. to philosophy; the supra-ethical requirement to have to sacrifice experience to it, such that, in this sacrifice, philosophy receives sense and truth, etc. What is man for? For rendering philosophy to itself, thought to the Absolute, experience to sense, sense to truth, metaphysics to its essence, philosophy to its auto-requirement. Man lends philosophy his force-of-thought, the assistance in reconstituting a superior equality, equivalence, or tautology with itself. In this way, no one is not supposed to want philosophy, but everyone, as multitudes, is condemned to be refused it. Such is the contrary double requirement in which the Principle of sufficient philosophy binds every man and through which it obliges him to pass so that he be recognized as its subject.
- The radical origin of philosophy in the spirit of science
The philosophers who have founded contemporary thought (Heidegger, Wittgenstein) don’t always contribute to the destruction of philosophy’s unitary illusion. They give the appearance that they practice philosophy in a new way, whereas they practice it in the same globally spontaneous way: by precisely supposing that practice would be “first” there. At most, they put a supplement of distance or alterity in it, albeit a supplement which also remains caught in the same naivety. Not only do they allow the history of philosophy to conserve itself under more tolerable masks, giving it back good conscience, which makes it lose its scholarly institutionalization; but also, by directly posing the problem of philosophy on the terrain of its practice (just as, each in their own respective way, Althusser, Deleuze, and Derrida do), they believed to be able to avoid a radical theoretical critique of philosophical Faith. Not only have they served as relays for the dominant practice of philosophy, developing it and justifying the laborers of the text, its archaeologists and its archivists, they have—more deeply—contributed to reinforcing philosophy’s “superior” good conscience.
All philosophical thought since Nietzsche is under the grips of the Other, of the real-as-Other, of the Other-than-logos or Other-than-metaphysics. This is a half-measure: philosophy enters into a really new practice only if—this is of the utmost importance—duality is added to multiplicity (to the multiplicity of philosophical Decisions). Multiplicity is nothing without the duality that accomplishes breaking the unitary style: it is nothing but the ripest fruit, the most accomplished of this style. And, unlike multiplicity, radical duality does not derive from the affect of the Other. The practices of dispersion and dissemination, of intercession and limitrophy, of archivism and topology all repose on the nature of “Decision” of unitary thought, and Decision at most goes all the way to multiplicities; it cannot go all the way to duality, which makes it possible to denounce its hallucinatory will to unity. Duality without multiplicity is perhaps metaphysical, but multiplicity without duality is unitary.
Duality in turn has no “non-philosophical” range unless it be that which flows from vision-in-science, duality of science and philosophy, of the One and Being. It then de-rives multiplicity (proper to Decisions) as forming only one of the two sides of a structure of thought vaster than philosophy alone. It still must not be posited as “first” in the fully metaphysical manner of a first and therefore still unitary dualism. The most irreducible duality must be the most grounded: it can only be this in the radicality of an experience which is that of the One and its solitude qua subject (of) science.
This radicality in fact a priori requires duality, yet without ever positing it as first in the manner of false philosophical dualisms, which are always simple delays to Unity. The most primitive experience that we can have of duality is as subjects (of) science, and this experience is what flows from us or from the One without ever being unitarily posited by it, for example after a scission or an alienation.
It is therefore a question from the start of introducing philosophy to the experience of radicality. Philosophers are nevertheless known for laying claim to it. But here this is the same with science: wanting radicality, they do not have it and are only “radical” in their universal postulation of an unlimited thought, of an infinite becoming-philosophy. Precisely because they want radical recommencements, they lose the affect of radicality; this loss is protracted and desired by contemporaries, who leave themselves to its cursory and precipitated critique. Once again, they confuse it with the unitary type of “primordial,” i.e. a primordial already divided-in-itself, already lost and inductive of illusion: Being, Consciousness, transcendental-and-transcendent Subject, Reason, etc. Radicalism for them is a trait of the old metaphysics; they confuse it with voluntarism, the will to Decision or Transcendence. In reality—and this demonstrates that they share with metaphysics its most profound Faith—philosophy has never been a really radical thought but always unitary-dual; it has never been a thought of the subject (without object) but always a thought of subject-object unity. The sole radical origin that it was allowed had the form of a fantasy: whence their experience that it is either unthinkable or illusory, and, for a Decision, it is true that it can only be that. Philosophy believed in that for a moment (Descartes, Husserl), then it had to consider the evidence: it never really commenced through the absolute root but through formal or preliminary operations meant to reach it, to access it, etc.: through the supplement of a “breeding ground”—language and the text, for example, or the arche-earth or the world, etc. If there is a root that commences from itself and remains in itself, it is suspected that this cannot be the Cogito, which always forms a system with the object and the World, with the cogitatum, and that this is no longer the “Copernican subject.” In a general way, philosophy has not known the radical subject but solely a philosophical subject, a universal subject and therefore a subject divided from itself, already split open, sufficiently put to death such that philosophy can tolerate it. The old radical style (Husserl’s, for example) is nothing but an impossible nostalgia, an aborted dream within a dream that combines with the possibility of its deconstruction due to the fact that the root, instead of simply being there the non-thetic lived experience (of) the One, remains caught there in representation or transcendence.
What is true for and of philosophy is no longer true of science. The phenomenal givens of radicality, i.e. of the One before any division, lived before its philosophical and unitary association with Transcendence, cannot be found in philosophical Decision—which is only possible through their denegation—but in autonomous scientific thought, in the essence of science and the essence of its subject. That philosophy now claims to prohibit a radical subject by denouncing what it believes to be a simple “return” to such a subject cannot be unsurprising: it has never really known the subject, it merely remains content with making a return to itself. That’s because it has not known the most radical subject, the subject-without-object-nor-world, that it is precisely—it and it alone—a practice of “return to…”. Man qua subject (of) science is the absolute point of departure from which a real order flows, an ordinality wherein philosophy comes in second position precisely because it is a position, whereas the real and the science that represents it are non-positional.
There are ultimately two ways in which the spirit of radicality distinguishes the “scientist” from the “philosopher.” On the one hand, while the philosopher subjects his force-of-thought to objective philosophical Appearance, the scientist grounds himself in radicality alone, which is—in the already given identity of his force-of-thought—identity of thought (and) of the pre-objective real. While the philosopher proceeds to a continuous identification with philosophy as authoritarian Universal, the scientist remains in an identity-without-identification. Just as much as the philosopher devotes himself to a Grand Objective Appearance and puts himself under its authority and its legislation, the scientist remains unalienated in the “undivided-dual” rather than individual identity [l’identité “individu-a-le” plutôt qu’individuelle] that founds science as non-thetic representation (of the) real. Finally, whereas philosophy is so great and superior to the philosopher that it condemns him to ever-inferior labors of surplus-value production, of supplement-to-philosophy, science as such (if not constituted and sanctioned knowledge) is never too vast for the scientist; it is entirely present, with neither excess nor shortcoming, in the local representation of the real.
Conversely, just as much as scientific radicality excludes decision (at least concerning the real implicated in the constitutive scientific posture), philosophy cannot do without “essential” decision. No doubt, it limits or inhibits this radicality in a real equally recognized as “undecidable,” but radicality is not undecidability: the former precedes the latter without return. Instead of supporting itself on this “definitive and veritable absolute” of the One, on man as subject (of) science and no longer as subject of philosophy, philosophy leaves itself to the arbitrariness or the non-foundation of decision and consequently abandons the spirit of radicality which is that of science, if not in its representation of the real then at least in that which grounds it, its immediate identity (with the) real. Philosophy also denies radicality by believing to be able to primordially bar it. What’s “in play” here? Not just science and the autonomy of its essence, but the subject (of) science, the most radical individual. The philosopher identifies with objective Appearance or a thetic Reflection of the real; he denies or hallucinates the undivided-duality of his force-of-thought. The spirit of decision and the unitary will that accompanies it is what forever exclude philosophy outside science.
The unawareness of the spirit of theoretical radicality is decisive for explaining current philosophical practice. The majority of contemporary philosophers—in the wake of Nietzsche’s generalized differential hermeneutics and Heidegger’s existential hermeneutics—have once and for all accepted to labor within the circle of decision, at the risk of breaking it or opening it, operations that continue to suppose its “real” validity. They definitively go along with spontaneous philosophy, they have abandoned the pathos of radicality, which they confuse with its rationalist forms. Whence their contempt and devalorization of theory; their reduction of every essential thought to a practice and an auto-exercise; their reduction of practice itself to a labor of connection and coordination, of weaving and patching [rapiéçage], of espying [épiéçage] or sewing texts; their pathos of the parceled, of the partial, of the molecular, of the disseminated, and of the micro-thing; and for the poorest amongst them, the economy of the candle ends borrowed from the sun of philosophical reason, the “minute-philosopher” and “table-tidy” style. Is thought’s nobility not in the most naïve radicality, in science’s naivety-without-makeup rather than in this artisanal industry of the impossible division, of undecidable decision? We will not say of modernity and post-modernity that it is more sterile than (for example) the period of German idealism, even though the sterility of philosophy’s philosophical practice cruelly reveals itself there. We are saying that, more than ancient philosophy, it will have managed to lose the radicality of thought in little labors which, under the pretext of “multiplicity,” are done for the benefit of the history of philosophy and for the Principle of sufficient philosophy.
This spontaneous practice of philosophy—left to itself far from authentic theoretical radicality—consummates the forgetting of the One’s essence and, consequently, the forgetting of the essence of philosophical Decision itself. It leaves philosophy to its historicity and its faith. The unshackling of philosophical practice (so as to be auto-programmed in extension and in intension) is not necessarily a good thing. Some philosophy, always some more philosophy? But under what conditions of rigor and reality? Philosophy’s essence is forgotten to the extent that spontaneous philosophical drive exerts itself. Taking support on the two boundaries of its objective Appearance, thought remains content with making their harmony and disharmony interminably resonate. Simultaneously unconcerned with his own thought (like the ancient poet) and concerned with continuing it without anything further (like the modern businessman), the philosopher circumvents science and deals with his own unconscious. Philosophical hustle and bustle [l’affairement] can always transmute into the Business [l’Affaire] of thought, there remains of it no more than a flight in the face of science and the real in the name of effectivity.
A philosophy that one would critique, that one would delimit or displace in the name of an experience of the most irreducible or most withdrawn (but always supposed first) Other is an “Affair,” it is no longer our thought. What we have the means to call into question, what we de facto call into question from what demonstrates itself as the thought (-of-) science is the authority in the name of which all these limited, calculated—all too well-calculated and all too often calculated—operations occur. The calculation and strategy inherent to this so eminently strategic decision are what—still—program its partially non-strategic character. Only a thought like that of science which has never been really summoned by the Principle of sufficient philosophy, which has not been called before its tribunal, which has always a priori thwarted the attempts at its philosophical conscription, can from the start demolish the authority of this principle, its will to universal legislation and auto-legislation. It can already reveal, make apparent, this so unapparent Faith in which philosophers move and make it apparent by “uni-lateralizing” it.
This is ultimately a question of another origin: the birth of philosophy in a scientific regime. Traditionally, philosophy is established in the immanence of its sole exercise, by and in a Decision for which, unable from the start to guarantee foundation—it is, qua decision, the lost foundation—it is condemned to will reality and the non-arbitrary character for an unlimited amount of time. As decision-in-view-of-essence, it is so essential that it remains arbitrary as the very birth of the will. It is thenceforth condemned to infinitely will itself. By this word “arbitrary,” we do not deny that Decision can have rules and produce them, we are merely saying that every rule is arbitrary due to its origin as rule: Transcendence. Whence its passion to be instituted and institutionalized, to be given a reality. Like man perhaps—like man’s coming rather—it is badly born. Philosophy’s birth has been a botched birth because it has already wanted to make itself “in the spirit” of philosophy and because it is condemned to be reborn incessantly of itself.
What is still possible once philosophy’s spontaneous practice is suspended? What is real, philosophy’s radical origin in the spirit of science, and therefore what it implies: the suspension of the philosophers’ philosophy.
- Faith and knowledge
The West, its history, and its culture, its technology as well but perhaps not its science are managed from higher than the Principle of reason: from the Principle of sufficient philosophy. It states that philosophy suffices for everything, and thus for the real supposed identical with everything. Our culture is overlapped by a double, a philosophical film or simulacrum, and our works are accompanied by this rumor called the logos. That there is a specifically Western rumor, that it is omnipresent, ungraspable and without origin, that its other name is “philosophy”: we no doubt prohibit naively claiming to interrupt it but do not prohibit seeking a rigorous science of it.
Against philosophy’s unitary experience, we will “oppose” a “dualitary” experience, which is that of science.
Against philosophical sufficiency, we will be able to oppose for fun a Principle of sufficient science. But these are two distinct sufficiencies. Philosophy is the unlimited, interminable claim to suffice for everything, i.e. thus for the production of the supposed in-sufficient real. Science is not a claim-to-suffice for the real, it is the actual sufficiency of the real “in-itself,” and, on this basis, the sufficiency of science to represent the real: ultimately a sufficiency for this real alone, which neither represents “All” nor is represented by it. In the same way, if science can be called “first,” it is not first in the sense in which philosophy wants to be: it is first in an order or on the basis of an order that flows from it; it is not first-and-last like philosophy; the real order wants that it solely be first and philosophy solely last. Rather than substituting it for philosophy and thereby reducing it once again by giving it this false grandeur, we will insist on its intrinsic finitude or radicality, its powerlessness to liberate itself from the real and from itself and to alienate itself like philosophy can and must do.
Our history, our culture, our technology, and lastly our philosophy are what ordinarily give science its signification. But this relation to science is perhaps the tender spot of Western history. This history is consummated in a system of interpretations that claim to decide on its range, to critique its meaning or lack of meaning, to determine its limits. But more than its relation to philosophy—and perhaps due to it—its relation to science remains problematic and lacks honesty. The philosophical representation of science remains inscribed in the philosophical representation of philosophy. It belongs to the Greco-Western figuration of the forgetting-of-essences: of science, of philosophy, of the One, of man, etc.
Western history is therefore decided in depth, rather than by way of the agitations of philosophy’s surfaces around Being, by way of a strange conflict—if there is one—because it is waged in a single direction: the unilateral war that philosophy will have never stopped waging against an indifferent science. Just as much as one remains on philosophy’s surface and games with the Other and with itself, one neither perceives the unilaterality of this war nor science’s unlimited patience. Philosophy is inseparable from this relentless battle it leads against science’s own thought. But science is the order that emplaces this conflict and makes its uni-laterality perceptible.
The philosophical representation of science is the guiding thread of our culture, our history, our technology, and we never stop paying for this dangerous effectiveness. The conceptuality and schemas of thought available to us for thinking man, science, and their quite special identity remain impregnated with this archaic primacy of the philosophical over the scientific and, consequently, by a narrow and narcissistic practice of philosophy that has still not yet found its freest space. The unitary conflation of the One and Being, of science and philosophy is one that falsifies both of their essences. Philosophy suffers from this monstrous embrace in which it is prevented from breathing by strangling what it believes to be its adversary. We can only free it by first of all risking the liberation of science and not the other way around, as one is in the habit of doing by simply retightening the knot that constrains them. This ontological and epistemological denigration of science has never been alleviated: the positive attempts to reverse this hierarchy and the repression weighing on science remain philosophical attempts that auto-deny themselves as such and reinforce the repression with the illusion of having lifted it.
The philosophical Authorities proceed by way of a great seductive and bewitching statement: man, science, their identity are born of the spirit and in the spirit of philosophy. The whole history of its relations with them is the history of a forced and hallucinatory genealogy. While science, man, their preliminary identity oblige use to change the order of our representations of the real rather than the real itself, philosophy believes to change the order of the real by changing the order of thoughts. That’s a hallucinatory anarchism, a spirit of dissolution: these are necessary for the philosophical Authorities, which proceed in general through dissolution and critique, just as unity proceeds through the means of division. We understand that they can seduce so many intelligences that serve them so as to deal with their accounts with the World: the superior vengeance or superior form of vengeance. We call ‘unitary paradigm’ this thought that posits and requires its identity—full or even split apart—with the real and that moves between the equation thinking = real, logos = being, etc. We also say that the essence of the unitary style is an amphibology of the real and philosophy; a reduction of the real to the All or to that which can be given in the extremely obvious mode of the All; the belief that it suffices to think in view of totality and in it so as to really cover “everything.”
Have we exhausted all the possible relations of these two poles of all knowledge, the philosophical and the scientific, the two highest goods of humanity? Are we clear about philosophy’s claims and sure of the soundness of its millennial claims? Must not the critique of religion be relayed by an overall critique of philosophy? Instead of this radical interrogation, we continue to imperturbably practice the old unitary privileges. We become agitated and preoccupied with philosophy’s self-care and self-concern. We open it to its Other, we make it feel the sting but without calling into question the oldest prejudice, the unitary prejudice, that which exerts itself for its benefit alone. This is a Faith, and it can but will its unity with science instead of science perhaps willing their duality. That philosophy slowly enters into the rank of knowledges—as it defines the ranks—does not nullify its capacity to organize and hierarchize, which is conserved in the most insidious forms. Sometimes one thinks to struggle against this disinvestment and against this authority—they go together—by way of a gain in transversal audience linked to the practices of intercession and limitrophy. That is a transfer to philosophy’s interior. The problem is completely different than the gain and loss in authority, it is the problem of constituting philosophy into a scientific continent. This is the true struggle against the scientistic and positivist reduction of philosophy to the rank of local knowledge. And it’s the means to establish new uses of philosophy.
What—not already anticipated and compromised—do we in fact have to oppose against philosophy’s will? Only this: knowledge knows about itself and from the start (in a transcendental way) that it is worth more than faith; that it’s not just worth more than faith, but that it precedes faith in the order of reality and that it is not determined in return by faith. Faith believes the inverse: it wants unity, whereas science remains content with letting-be philosophical Decision as object without reducing it. Above all, we do not say that there is a remainder or a resistance to the All or to Unity—this would be to suppose them first, primordial, and valid—“in spite of it all,” this would be to remain under the authority of philosophical faith. Conversely, we know that there is a thought-without-totality, an immediately dual thought that has always preceded, definitively preceded the All and unitary will, that has already disarmed the illusion with which philosophical Authorities are armed.
If a “new” task is still possible that has not been programmed by philosophy, it involves redistributing the relations of man, science, and philosophy, uprooting philosophy’s unitary activity from it and giving it back to man and science. It would be a question of really unknotting—not simply loosening/retightening it or displacing it—this magical knot in which science remains caught in its philosophical image and in which philosophy in turn remains caught in its own will and its auto-representation. To “exit” this bewitchment, to instead discover that this was nothing but an “unreal” bewitchment (albeit not lacking in effectiveness) takes more than a supplement of philosophy. To escape this enchanted circle in which philosophy remains captive alongside science, there must be another “posture” than the heroism of the bearer of logos. Perhaps in the last instance it is science that holds the secret, not of this magic but of the dissolution that finally reveals it to be what it is.
The West’s true discontent therefore does not arise from its relation to philosophy alone (as Heidegger repeats, following in the wake of all the philosophers who suppose it to be determinant). The discontent arises from philosophy’s hallucinatory relation to science that makes us believe, for example and at best, that philosophical Decision is at the center of thought and that science is the Other which haunts its margins and peripherally inhibits it. If there is a real task of thought, it is instead in what is definitively no longer a reversal and definitely not a Copernican reversal. Put science at the center—and philosophy on the periphery? No, for when science is really “at the center,” there is no longer center nor periphery. Nothing, not even philosophy, turns around it. It is so sufficient that it de-rives every other thought without return. Rather than placing ourselves once again at science’s point of articulation within the philosophical circle, rather than still analyzing the symptom, thought must replace itself in science’s very essence, in the relation (to the) real that it postulates immanently, and thought must draw conclusions from it concerning the philosophical Authorities.
The unitary bewitchment cannot be brought to light as such except through the discovery that there are two paradigms of thought and that the first (that of science) is from the start dualitary rather than unitary. The attempts at emerging from radical duality take place in general under bad conditions, both inside and with the means of Greek philosophy. Whence their heretical, gnostic, religious forms and the impression they give of a theoretical failure. It’s useless to specify that since this dualism of knowledge and faith still recurs with Greek means it can only be crushed by the unitary drive, which is the essence of philosophizing. Philosophy is onto-theologically reinforced and reconstituted on the reduction of this threatening dualism and thereby is guaranteed the longest reign, a reign over mists no doubt, a cloudless reign over clouds…if not these internecine wars, these stifled yet renascent thunderstorms that are its raison d’être; if nothing but that it is preoccupied with teasing itself, affecting itself, critiquing its most archaic part, opening itself to its margins and confronting the Other—all the better to conserve itself. Never a real secession, never an injury really without return, and never truly aneconomic…
Meanwhile, without ever waging war with philosophy—at least in the mode in which philosophy wages a perpetual war (we aren’t even mentioning the conscriptions of science on behalf of one of the adversaries: idealism, materialism, positivism, spiritualism, etc.)—without ever (to abbreviate somewhat) simply “conquering” the real but by rectifying and elongating its representation of it, science remains in its finitude or in its radicality. Of itself—although an unreflected knowledge or a knowledge so obscure that it falls outside philosophy—it demonstrates that its strict self-relation of identity ultimately, outside it, makes possible a true duality in thought. Their traditional conflict is clarified from then on: either philosophy, increasingly deprived of objects, is condemned to demonstrate once and for all its global mastery over science, or science now must be capable of de-monstrating that it has always escaped this hierarchy and that it implies a new type of order, one that is dualitary rather than unitary.
It would be a question of extracting the essence of science without making use of the two operations in which unitary thought culminates: Reversal, and Displacement insofar as it depends on an anterior Reversal in general. The project of a displacement of philosophy by science would basically be a null gain since it would suppose a preliminary reversal of hierarchy. Displacement is certainly more fundamental than Reversal, but on condition of no longer making it into a philosophical operation (i.e. no longer first/constitutive of the real) and of treating it as an effect of science, which is acquired without resorting to these methods. Science dis-places philosophy without reversing it, negating it, or destroying it, etc., which means that science provides philosophy a real place for the first time or finally em-places it. Philosophy’s emplacement irreversibly flows from the existence of science: that is the true phenomenal content of its “secondarization” or its “uni-lateralization.” And the uni-lateralization of philosophy is the condition for it to become a scientific content in turn, perhaps the last possible scientific content and one of the most difficult to acquire.
To think science is therefore to already think it in a scientific mode: its phenomenal essence excludes the deployment of philosophical technology. It does not in any way exhibit itself along with operations of scission, redivision, difference, etc., which all suppose the element of philosophical Faith, both transcendence as well as its resorption into a position. To extract the real phenomenal kernel of science—that which will not remain content with exceeding the logos but which will precede it irreversibly—from the start we have to entrust ourselves to the thought (-of-) science, most notably its “non-positionality,” its “blindness,” its ontological “deafness.” This phenomenal kernel, forever unheard by the logos, cannot be said in a logos regime; it recuses ontologies, denegations, and their deconstructions. Science can only be exhibited from itself and by a thought that is in turn non-self-thetic and experiences itself in its reality.
Once elucidated, in the One the imbrication of man and science before their division into contraries by philosophy, three tasks become possible concerning the latter:
- Science is, first of all, science of philosophy before being its critique. Philosophy has not yet been experienced as a scientific continent, and the human Sciences are not the ones to be able to face this test. As the last manifestation of culture to resist science, philosophy requires the greatest deployment of scientific effort. Nevertheless, a transcendental science immanently implies the reality of its extension to philosophy and the guarantee that it will not be devalorized.
- From the science of philosophy immediately follows a critique of it. Here, critique is an effect, not an essence. In philosophy, it is an essence, an auto-solicitation, an auto-reversal-and-displacement; philosophy supposed given as “first” means that critique is also. Instead of prolonging philosophical Faith in this way, one changes the critique’s terrain. It flows from science and heteronomously affects philosophy. Thereby founded in reality, it stops being an arbitrary operation that still participates in philosophical Illusion and Faith.
- Lastly, from this science—and because it is no longer itself a simple possibility of philosophy—flows a specific pragmatics powerful enough to renew the possibilities of philosophical Decision.
Thus, science does not merely serve as a critique of philosophy and its transcendental illusion: that would be a supplementary unitary precipitation (the Vienna Circle’s, for example). The science (of) the essence (of) science exists, and it is also science (of) philosophy: the real critique of the latter by the former flows from it, just as a new pragmatics of thought flows from it still further, still more powerful than philosophy, thereby finding its material in philosophy.
Science is dual and liberating: it does not modify its object by knowing it, does not ob-jectivate it, leaves it be. While philosophy only dreams of forcing and reappropriating science, the latter leaves the former be and remains content with treating it as its indifferent “object” without objectivating it. The freest and most alive man will prefer philosophy to worldly servitudes, but if he is even freer than those who remain content with wanting to be, he will prefer science instead and will cast suspicion on a certain double-play that it will conduct for its own benefit…
Would there in fact be two cultures? More exactly, a single culture, of which philosophy is the most general form, and another form of knowledge in the most rigorous sense, which dismantles the spontaneous authority of culture and even precedes it. Science is not the Other of culture; culture is the Other of science. Science is the pole and index of the real, the real base of thought. Philosophy has always been the norm or the rule of culture and therefore has wanted to legislate on science. The task is perhaps to put the orders back in place and to put philosophy back in its place.
- The neighborhoods of the program
Vision-in-science seems to externally accumulate contradictory philosophical projects: a scientific but non-empiricist or non-positivist posture (unlike the Vienna Circle); a transcendental but not philosophical and not epistemological posture (unlike Kant and Husserl); a subjectivity, but too radical and too deprived of objects to be Kantian; a duality of science and its object, or, rather, of the object of knowledge and the real object, yet not Spinozist; a science of philosophy, but neither historicizing nor historico-Marxist, etc.
Those are appearances, the result of a philosophical re-interpretation of this non-philosophical science. One thereby divides—according to ancient Greco-unitary custom—what should have remained united. The problem is not even to (dialectically?) “reconcile” these so-called contraries (science and the transcendental, science and the absolute or the real, the transcendental and the real, etc.). It is to apperceive that there is a certain experience of thought wherein they have never been dissociated from the state of contraries and which is therefore anterior to the philosophical vision of the real, which begins by dividing or claiming to divide this indivisible.
To elucidate this project, we will situate it in relation to a certain number of neighborhoods with which it could be confused for a still-philosophical gaze. It is a question of succeeding—on the realest and most theoretically rigorous bases—at a certain number of projects engaged here and there in the history of philosophy, but of which it may be considered that they have failed for lack of a real base and a rigorous theory: certainly not for lack of philosophy, but on the contrary due to obeisance to the Principle of sufficient philosophy.
- To found otherwise what the Vienna Circle was unable to: a critique of philosophy that derives from a veritable science, from the essence of science rather than from what was still an (empiricist) philosophical idea of science. The critique of metaphysics in the name of logic and experience conjugated together is not a scientific critique but a philosophical auto-critique and one more philosophy. We have to substitute for empiricist positivism a transcendental positivism that is alone capable—and alone worthy—of founding philosophical Decision without denigrating or dismembering it.
- To found otherwise what Marx was unable to: a rigorous science (i.e. founded theoretically and founded in a transcendental mode) of philosophy. It is a question of struggling on two fronts: stop lowering philosophy by submitting it to a “science” that would be a materialist and empiricist, transcendent or unfounded realism; make this science (of the) real pass precisely from its materialist and external state (which conveys the worst prejudices of “consciousness” and ontology to which it does nothing but oppose itself) to the state in which it is founded in itself on a rigorous transcendental base. We will thereby elucidate the phenomenal givens that form the content of reality of the non-philosophical practice of philosophy that Marxism left “ontologically” undetermined and that consequently veers toward politico-sociological forms. To recognize philosophical Decision’s full right, we will have to definitively renounce submitting it to a historical science or passing through the history and sociology of the social representations of philosophizing. Philosophical Decision is more powerful than these weak theories in every way because they derive from it or can always be considered as its “possibilities” and treated as such. Everything that can be philosophized must be—only the real cannot.
- To found otherwise what Husserl was unable to: a real (i.e. radical or anterior to them) suspension of all philosophical possibilities and not just of some of them—of positionality as such. An absolute science deserves its name only if it is capable of not including in its essence the traces of the operations that would have been necessary for accessing it. It is actual or does not exist; from the start it excludes all entry or access, all recommencement and repetition, for example those that would require a reduction that would not be a simple (transcendental) difference from the World and philosophy. If there is a “transcendental reduction,” it must be a simple effect not constitutive of the real; it must irreversibly flow from the real transcendental instance that is un-constitutable, and it must not be necessary for constituting this instance. Constitution in general rests on a ground of unconstituted reality by definition and therefore in a non-self-thetic experience and in non-self-thetic lived experiences.
- To found otherwise what the most “scientific” “history of philosophy” was nevertheless unable to: a science of philosophy that is not a simple auto-application of it, a simple vicious circle that reproduces—in a particularly reified way and as the extreme point in which it runs aground—the auto-paralysis and auto-inhibition of philosophical Decision. The “history of philosophy” is the extenuation of philosophy, of what programs it as one of its possibilities. A science of philosophy—bracketing philosophy’s pertinence, what it spontaneously lays claim to—must also bracket philosophy’s “history” and its claimed pertinence.
- To found otherwise than Kant, then Heidegger, were unable to: an extension of transcendental Illusion, beyond simple “Metaphysics” and “Representation” or “Presence,” to every possible philosophical Decision; an extension made possible on the base of a more rigorous (finally non-philosophical) concept of science as directly transcendental and in general on the base of the One rather than Being or its essence. In particular, this science must no longer be the mixture of an empirical (physical or logical) science and the transcendental, but the science (of) the essence of every science, i.e. rather than mathematical physics or logic having become transcendental by way of unitary amphibology, absolute science as non-self-thetic science.
- To found otherwise what deconstruction was unable to, a radical critique of philosophy and of the Greco-unitary. Its condition is to no longer postulate—like it still does in the manner of naïve philosophical Faith—the reality of the logos or even (if this is no longer sufficient) the undecidable unity of the logos-as-illusion with the reality of the Other, the absolute pertinence of philosophical Decision, when that would be only so as to deconstruct it; and to no longer postulate (in an also spontaneous way) the identity of the real to the Other, but to be founded on the real as non-self-thetic knowledge, fully given in a way anterior to Decision and even to the Other. The identification of the real with an unthought and non-founded Other consummates philosophical hallucination.
- Philosophical circle and scientific circle: the problem of a community
In periods of intellectual agitation or merely of intellectual unsatisfaction, various circles are created: political, religious, social, philosophical. Various circles, schools, or simple networks. Most of the time, these circles gather to announce their finalities and determine goals and values. Due to this very fact, they commence by obeying an older value that they do not master, that still commands their most revolutionary wills: the “circle” value and essence to which they pay very little attention. We are no doubt seeking a community or a circle = X, but which is capable of calling into question all the way up to this practice of the classic intellectual circle or of the philosophical “school” and is capable of founding a new status of the “researcher” and “thinker” on non-philosophical bases.
What is a circle whose base is philosophical?
A political, social, or philosophical circle (Kreis rather than Zirkel) is traditionally defined by its finalities. In reality, its complete essence includes other dimensions that need to be described:
- a) finalities: in general, a project of transformation of an old state of affairs to a new state of affairs. The old state is described as unsatisfying, either due to the conflictual violence it contains, or due to its senility and its decline, or due to its incapacity to create new values, etc. One passes from this so-called “old” state—the current—to the new state via a series of various types of operations (promotion, reform, complete revolution), i.e. via violent operations of reversal and displacement, of transformation of the very essence of reality, which suppose the essence of the real to be transformable. As for the matter transformed in this way, it is ideal: the circle must produce, exchange, and expand new ideas that will prepare the real changes; its presuppositions are idealist and experimental; it anticipates—in the manner of the laboratory and on the material of values—a transformation to come, deemed more real.
- b) privileged themes, imposed objects, but above all a guiding theoretical line, an ambiguous orthodoxy or one undergoing formation. In every way, these “objects,” these “ideas,” and these “values” suppose various de-cisions, lines of demarcation, cleavages—in short, hierarchies. The traditional circle not only defends various ideas, it also wants to create values and proceeds to new hierarchizations: it defines a certain regime—best, more current, more revolutionary, etc.—of discourses to hold and statements to formulate.
- c) structures of theoretical and practical power, hierarchies necessary to its organization and its functioning; criteria of belonging and exclusion that decide on the circle’s interiority and exteriority. There is not just a power internal to knowledge, to its production, to its reproduction, to its consummation; not just a power of apparatuses that organize its production and its manifestation; there are also criteria of entry, exit, pass and initiation, rejection and condemnation, etc.
This phenomenology of the traditional circle says nothing new. But it’s important to do it as completely as possible because it reveals that the structures or presuppositions of the circle are of the philosophical type or can always be read in this way. These are the dimensions of every political, religious, social, philosophical circle; they reproduce the essential structures of philosophical circularity and the mechanisms of philosophical Decision.
This type of circle can be more or less open or closed. The possibility of being strictly closed (Zirkel) or opened to various degrees belongs to its very essence. But if this opening and this multiplicity perturb its hierarchies, if they move its structures, they do not destroy them. They form a system with them and presuppose them when this would be only to “work on” them, “solicit” them, etc.
On the contrary, we are seeking a circle = X that would no longer rest on philosophical presuppositions (even open and deconstructed ones) and that, by treating philosophical Decision as its material, would not in turn be founded on a certain Decision and would therefore not “circle” with its object. This is the scientific type of circle.
What is a circle whose base is scientific?
On bases of thought that no longer wish to be “naively” philosophical, we propose to construct a circle = X whose “utopic” essence is different: perhaps it is different, but not at all in the sense in which philosophy may imagine “utopia.” It would no longer correspond to a more or less open or closed position of thought; its bases would no longer be those of philosophical Decision, but those of science—supposing that science is an experience of thought fully independent of philosophy. It’s not a question of saying that only “scientists” can enter it (“none shall enter here…”)—au contraire—but that philosophical qualification, the capacity to philosophically pose problems, without being an obstacle—au contraire…—is not a sufficient condition at all; as if philosophy were justifiable only by itself as it has always believed…This circle would treat philosophy as its object, albeit with overall “non-philosophical” means and in a “non-philosophical” way. For example, but this is insufficient, it could re-examine and re-habilitate all non-philosophical (scientific, popular, artistic, political, etc.) uses of philosophy.
‘That’s a contradiction,’ philosophers will say: philosophy is auto-legislative in the last instance, auto-foundational, auto-critical, etc. or does not exist. But we are now aware of this objection. In history, there have obviously always been critiques and heterocritiques of this will to self-mastery, but they have always ended by accepting defeat and recognizing (explicitly or in the long run) philosophy’s authority. Here are two examples: that of a deconstruction of philosophical Decision by an instance of alterity or withdrawal (Heidegger, then Derrida); that of a (“Leninist” and overall Marxist) non-philosophical (yet political) practice of philosophy. These two attempts interest us but ultimately deceive us, for in the end they still postulate a piece of reality and therefore of authority of philosophical Decision and Position in the deconstructive or scientific treatment of philosophy: their reduction of philosophical Decision is insufficient because it still resorts to its authority.
A really scientific theory of philosophy supposes that the reality of non-philosophical uses of philosophy (the reality of this non-) can be founded; that there is the availability of a problematics that is not once again a simple supplement to philosophical positionality; that there is a theory of science capable of showing that it is an absolutely autonomous thought with respect to philosophy—having eliminated from its essence every shred of philosophy—and is therefore susceptible to proceeding to a global reduction of philosophical Decision without return, since it would not only no longer depend on the latter in its constitution but would also be powerful enough to inhibit Decision in one fell swoop without resorting to its always partial and relative “deconstruction.”
That’s the “utopia” of the circle = X. Its utopic character is defined with respect to philosophy as an art of topoi and a thought of place in general, as topo-logos. But its reality does not depend on this opposition: it is real on bases other than those of philosophy and respects what’s essential to particular Decisions. Not only because each of its “members” can always factually labor within and from philosophy on various chosen positions (no account of this order is required of it, and it cannot in turn call on them from the point of view of the circle = X). More deeply because the labor on these new theoretical bases—whose essence is no longer philosophical—does not destroy philosophy anymore. Such as we conceive it and develop it, the scientific posture (as we said) functions as a (already and from the start actual) quasi-reduction of philosophical Decisions. Concerning this point, we can recall Husserl for a moment: reduced, the World is not thereby destroyed. In the same way with philosophy here: we all the more stop believing in its validity or its authority over science and over that which, of itself, is received by the subject (of) science; but philosophy integrally subsists, in the same mode as this belief in its omnipotence, as an object of study. Husserl perhaps simply never pushed the reduction far enough; he kept it as a philosophical operation still linked in the last instance to the World and philosophy; he remained content with returning a certain essence of philosophy against particular philosophical decisions, such that the non-(philosophical) remains included, enveloped in the philosophical.
Various power structures belong by definition to the traditional intellectual communities whose nature is necessarily hierarchical and conflictual. Whence the criteria of entry, passage, gradation, domination, exit via scission or exclusion, etc. All these phenomena linked to the imbrication of (philosophical) knowledge and power are concentrated in a single but fundamental trait: they express the domination of the circle—qua abstract and totalizing Unity—over the “theoretical” individuals that are constrained to enter and exit it, that in every way “belong” to the circle, are its “members,” and are nothing but subjected to it and to philosophy.
There would be no point in reiterating this schema, even if it were modified, opened, solicited, etc. What must be abandoned is this entire structure of the unitary circle, anterior (at least) as well as posterior to the individual “members.” A circle whose base is scientific makes possible and necessary this abandonment and the abandonment of the criteria of belonging or rejection. Indeed, a circle whose spirit is “scientific” requires that individuals as subjects (of) science or “theoretical subjects” no longer be subsumed under the circle supposed as existing anterior to them, requires that they not fuse with it, since each member, for example, then would represent a partial circle for another member. On the contrary, it supposes that the “theoretical individuals” be autonomous with respect to every possible circle and thus that they irreversibly precede it instead of being preceded and dominated by it. The individual is the criterion and ground of knowledge—not the other way around, as philosophy and its universal and unitary structures postulate—and it prevails over every political or techno-political unity.
If the criterion of belonging is strictly immanent or transcendental, it in fact excludes belonging itself to a supposed preliminary circle and the rites of passage, introduction, and exclusion. It’s also the circle that irreversibly derives from individuals. Not that each of them is also a circle—a universal and a regularity—for the others. But from each of them flows a unique universal that cannot cover them again, include them, and dominate them in turn. This universal is simply a surface of reception and inscription of knowledge, for example of the acquired science on philosophical Decision. It is produced knowledge, not the theoretical individuals, that belongs to the circle = X. Such that, without forcing the formula, it must be said that the circle = X is devoid of inhabitants, that it does not contain any member but merely rectifiable knowledge, and that this is why this circle can be called a “utopia”: it is “utopic” to the extent of its reality.
7. Themes, objects, and tasks
Even though we intend to treat philosophical Decision in a regime of heteronomy, we only do so from science’s point of view and from the point of view of a transcendental science, not that of an empirical science (history, sociology, economy), which would suppose an empiricist reduction, a veritable degradation and destruction of Decision. We also in a sense absolutely recognize the claims of philosophy over effectivity all while withdrawing from it any credibility as for the real—individuals—which we distinguish from effectivity. Not imposing any empirical and worldly limit to philosophy, we in principle refuse to choose in it or in whichever one of its systems between what is dead and what is alive. We give up proceeding philosophically toward it, i.e. drawing a supplementary critical line of demarcation. Each member of the community can assume the philosophical positions that he will have “decided” for precise effective reasons but in complete transcendental contingency. He can even believe them to be omnipotent, except, nonetheless, for this transcendental science. We refuse to dismember philosophical Decision, which is each time a whole, and we acknowledge its interpretative omnipotence as for the phenomena of worldly effectivity, which is non-real, but we put them in suspension from the One-real. This radical dualism, which implies the contingency of Decision with respect to the One-real, makes it possible to defend philosophical activity while reserving the means to treat it scientifically. It is in fact fundamental to see that science, unlike philosophy, does not modify its object by way of the knowledge of this object.
One will therefore not count on us to lead a partial critique of Decision, deciding once again on what is authentic, true, etc…and on what is inauthentic, vulgar, gregarious, quotidian, etc. We conjugate without contradiction—therefore without philosophy—an integral philosophical affirmation and a radical suspicion concerning its ultimate pertinence as for the real. Only indifference to effectivity—World and philosophy—, which is the indifference of the One-real, can found this duality.
Given this recognition of philosophical Decision as for effectivity, it becomes possible to treat any object or theme whatsoever, provided that its philosophical “form” be fully developed, since philosophy is the vastest of the historico-systematic formations of knowledge—aside from science. Once clarified locally in accordance with a particular philosophical Decision, the latter can be led back to its real and transcendental roots, its contingency and its necessity proportionate to one another. The contingency of effective or worldly givens, then those of Decisions, will serve as factors of variation of the labors carried out within the circle that takes philosophical Decision as its object.
On these new theoretical bases, it is possible to redefine the dimensions of the circle such as we intend to put it to work. They are henceforth theoretically founded rather than spontaneous or opportunistic; and they are founded on bases which are no longer those of philosophy but those of science. This “change of terrain” suffices to explain why what we refuse from the current state of affairs is less important than describing the positive givens that make a new type of theoretical circle and research real.
These are consequently the finalities of the circle:
- a) What state of affairs is its cause? Not the “current philosophy” accused of all ills (sterile; reactionary; abstract and incapable of assuming effective “reality”; meaningless and unfalsifiable, etc.) but philosophical Decision taken globally or in all its particular historical modes, including its contemporary attempts at “reform,” “return,” “deconstruction,” etc.
- b) What do we no longer want in philosophy for all time? Naïve Decision, spontaneous philosophical practice, brute even in its most elaborate reflections; philosophy’s belief-in-itself-as-in-the-real; philosophical Faith, which implies the equation: thinking = real, philosophy = real or philosophy = co-production of the real; the thesis of philosophy’s auto-foundation and auto-legislation, and its corollary: philosophy’s right to legislate on the real, to make believe that the real lacks sense and truth, which it would need to add to it (for example, by sublating them and manifesting them). We can suspend this naïve faith-in-itself-as-in-the-real based on extracting (via non-philosophical methods) a real on which it will have never legislated.
- c) What are the symptoms of philosophical naivety, what are the traits that belong to philosophy’s essence, not just the “current” philosophy? To what extent is there discontent in philosophy?
- repetition, rehashing, reactivation of possibilities and the dearth of emergence, creation, production
- the auto-inhibition, auto-paralysis of philosophical Decision in itself, the becoming-impossible of every possible decision; the drop in the rate of philosophical output
- incessant conflictuality, the perpetual war of “positions”; the eternalization of and will to combat for combat’s sake; the congenital heroism of the philosopher as bridge between the human and the superhuman; etc.
- d) What do we want to do?
- the scientific examination of the reality (and not just of the possibility) of philosophical Decision. How does it reach all the way up to man, and can it be taken up by the subject (of) science or by an individual? And how can he receive it? Contingency and necessity of philosophical Decision: how do we determine them with respect to the real in its non-historical essence?
- the critique of transcendental Illusion, henceforth extended from metaphysics to every philosophical Decision as such. This is an important but secondary task; it must be subordinated to a positive yet transcendental science of philosophical Decision;
- in a general way, to pass from the spontaneous or naïve practice of philosophy to its pure theoretical practice. Philosophy is not yet a science; it has a theoretical side or aspect but has not known and has not acquired a scientific essence. We are proposing to make philosophy pass to its rigorously founded theoretical form; we are proposing to abandon its Greco-contemporary forms, which are those of a still brute, violent, and conflictual practice; and we are therefore proposing to make possible a pragmatics that would take Decision itself as an object.
We will provide several complementary specifications about this real critique and this real pragmatics of philosophy.
8.From the philosophical critique of the real to the real critique of philosophy
The abandonment of philosophical spontaneism procures a certain number of benefits. Two of them deserve to be pointed out for their importance: the critical function’s change in sense and truth; the foundation of a rigorous pragmatics of philosophy.
It’s understood that one can continue to think in a philosophical regime and that, in a certain way, one is constrained to answer the call of the Principle of philosophical sufficiency. The history, auto-critique, hetero-critique of philosophy are possibilities by its full rights. One can also always limit the unitary spontaneity and faith that define this traditional auto-exercise. The science of philosophy implies, beyond the knowledge of the essence of Decision it procures, a sort of “transcendental Deduction” of philosophy with respect to science and in the limits of reality and validity that it alone can define. If science, correctly elaborated in its essence, is the transcendental criteria of philosophy rather than one of its objects, this immediately means two things for philosophy. The first is that its spontaneous exercise, the belief-in-itself-as-in-the-real, is a transcendental illusion; that the call and seduction of objective philosophical Appearance are a hallucination, not qua appearance but as “objective,” since, for science, objectivity no longer overlaps the real. The second is that, on the grounds of a real usage of Decision, it becomes possible to radically renew its practices, to found a real usage of philosophy’s fictional and hallucinatory virtualities.
The first of these beneficial effects is the abandonment of the critical style, of the critical epoch of thought and culture, which is founded in philosophical spontaneism qua dominant practice. The critique of which philosophy makes use is “first,” like philosophy itself: even balanced—as it always is—by an affirmation, an Un-critiquable, a positivity, it remains co-extensive with the totality of the philosophical operation. Such that philosophy [la philosophie] in person as such becomes this finally “superior” or excellent critique, this critique “in itself” of the real. Objective philosophical Appearance assembles a call to think beyond…, with a call to also critique beyond…the given. There is a veritable objective critical Appearance that extends as far as philosophy. And it is inseparable from philosophizing Faith: how could an operation as absurd as Decision, as arbitrary as Transcendence not limit its arbitrariness by way of an auto-critique in the same gesture? Simply, if critique is the remedy to faith, this is a critical faith that serves as remedy and prolongs the illness. If spontaneity wants to be balanced by the limit, the spontaneous position of limiting it shackles the operation to itself. Philosophy is condemned to Transcendence by Transcendence: no auto- or hetero-critique will reach the end of this essential Faith.
What is the critical epoch of thought and culture, supposing that it’s still possible to think historically? It is is the parousia of war qua essence of unitary thought. Its contemporary forms manifest (more than others) the hypercritical result of philosophy. Rational critique, hermeneutic suspicion, affirmative negation, deconstruction, dispersion, and dissemination, etc., philosophical Decision manifests—across so many repentances and hesitations which some take to be a limitation of critique—an enormous charge of auto-dislocation and dehiscence. But in this auto-polemos, it draws on the ultimate resources that are necessary for it to conserve itself. The little scholarly currencies of “critique” are the symptoms of a powerful internecine war, of an auto-conflictuality all the more savage and unfettered, all the more left to negation and capture, to attraction and repulsion because it cannot lead to the real destruction of philosophy. Intra-philosophical war (that which is waged against the World, History, Experience, Science, etc. is included) is the obligatory method for philosophy to be able to affirm itself: this is the affect through which it wills itself as such.
There is consequently a spontaneous practice of critique, a critique-of-itself, naïve and twisted like it, wild and ultimately without control (besides itself). But it can be “really” limited. Science implies a change of essence and not simply of critique’s function. We call “real critique” that which—ceasing to found itself on philosophical Faith and to be a weapon in its service even when it turns it against itself, before being “first” like it—is founded on science and unilaterally flows from it without claiming to also be constitutive of the real. Its only function is to hold-at-a-distance or indifferentiate philosophical Faith and the war it implies.
Through vision-in-One, which is the non-empirical ground of science, we know from that start that knowledge absolutely precedes faith and that scientific or real critique is worth more than philosophical critique. If the critical spirit is the unmooring of philosophy insofar as it is unfounded from the point of view of its reality, if generalized and “everything-presupposed” critique is the manner in which it attempts to become science (which is refused it), its real (i.e. absolute) limitation amounts to the experience—which is that of the subject (of) science—of the equivalence of all philosophical Decisions and of peace. It belongs to the phenomenal givens of a research community founded on science to not make an acceptation or exception of any philosophy. Such an equivalence is obviously no longer unitary, nor is it nihilistic as it would be if it resulted from a dominant philosophical position. It is implicated by the vision-in-One of philosophies; its nature is “transcendental” rather than empirical or effective. Qua human, subjective, and communitarian equivalence, it is no less “real.”
9. A rigorous pragmatics of philosophical games
This indifference that “theoretical solitudes” impose on philosophy is positive and foundational for new relations to it. A community of researchers joined by a scientific practice and constrained to renounce spontaneous philosophical war can still dedicate its efforts to this object and, around it, invent other uses, other emotions, other games, produce other philosophical possibles that would not have been programmed by the Greek opening and the unitary practice it supposes.
What must be re-examined is the theme of non-philosophical practices of philosophy. To grasp its veritable scope, several distinctions may be put forth.
- In spontaneous philosophical practice, that in which unitary thought wills itself and as such (Nietzsche, for example), the philosophical and the non?philosophical are already mixed together in every way. There is always the non-philosophical: a point of view, a perspective, a material, a given, etc. left to its blindness or its (empirical, gregarious, quotidian, vulgar, etc.) non-sense. But this is the not-yet-philosophical, it will-have-to-become-philosophical, to be re-internalized, signified, verified, sublated, critiqued, deconstructed, etc. in every way. Such that the non?philosophical is postulated or tolerated only so as to be submitted in the last instance to the authority and parousia of the becoming- or finally-philosophical. It does not work on its own behalf, it responds without ever really letting down the call of the Principle of sufficient philosophy. In the state of tendency, there is consequently an absolute Idealism proper to philosophy: this is an invariant, and each thinker may vary it and realize it in his own way. This intermediate usage of the non-philosophical tolerates two variations: the one inferior to it, and the other superior to it.
- The superior variant of this tendency is recent and consists in this: between the non-(philosophical) and the philosophical, there is almost a duality, a quasi-dualism. The non-philosophical receives a special positivity that makes it a little more autonomous than previously with respect to its final re-affirmation. However—this is the limited character of that project—it is never absent or destroyed. No doubt, it is not entirely internalizable or negotiable by the non-philosophical, and it resists the latter all the way to practically transforming it. But these attempts succumb—after a certain delay or lag that seems sufficient to them—to the Principle of sufficient philosophy. Philosophical Faith is always acting here; to differ/defer it is not to carry out its real critique. The consequence of this is a certain weakness in really and rigorously determining the phenomenal content proper to the non- of the “non-philosophical.” On the one hand, this alterity, this experience-of-the-other is still impregnated with ontological negativity and has not acquired its most positive form. It receives a positive content that expresses this alterity or is the symptom of it: sometimes the political—the party takeover or class struggle as its non-empirical essence, albeit the latter receives a unique and particular positive mask that blocks the alterity of “struggle”; sometimes an unlimited multiplicity of masks or guises which, in the philosophical manner, generalizes the symptom: Withdrawal, Unthought, Unsaid or Difference, Beyond-closure, Remainder, etc. Empiricity is then excluded from the Other, but the latter remains all the more undetermined. On the other hand—together they form a system—a circle (even broken and differed/deferred) remains between the non- and the philosophical that is still determined reciprocally. The Principle of sufficient philosophy will have been solicited, it will not have been globally invalidated.
- The general tendency to the philosophical submission of the non-philosophical also tolerates an internal variant: all the empiricist and technical usages of philosophy by specialists (physicists, theologians, scientists, poets, writers, etc.) but also by the history of philosophy, by its linguistic or textual reduction, are reified modes of the non-philosophical. Although they tend Decision toward its breaking point, they remain organized around it in the last resort, since Decision is more powerful than they are. These are still (extreme) possibilities of philosophy and accountable before its sufficiency.
These three types of philosophy’s non-philosophical usage are programmed by philosophy itself. They are regularly practiced and arise from unitary faith or spontaneity. Indeed, the principle of equivalence is also applied to these uses: they have as much value—at least for the subject (of) science—as the “hard” uses of philosophy or the uses “in view of” it as such. But they have more truth than philosophy as such or than, for example, its scholarly and historicizing usage. We have to extract a completely different type of non-philosophical practice.
- Outside these three types of the non-philosophical, the non- can receive its most positive sense and its realest tenor when it flows from the One or from science without having been preliminarily determined by the philosophical will. This non- no longer corresponds to the different forms (whatever they may be) of non-being, non?being, nothing or nothingness, but what we call the (non-) One, or even, in a mode further from the latter, what we call non-thetic Transcendence (NTT); they derive directly from the One without co-determining it in return, thereby definitively escaping from philosophical circularity. The non-(philosophical) can then affect the philosophical in radical exteriority or in a regime of heteronomy, in an irrerversible affection that goes from the (non-) One or from NTT to philosophical Decision.
Having shed light on the ultimate phenomenal givens of the non-(philosophical), those that the subject (of) science lives in an immanent way, it becomes possible to found on it all these usages (be they narrowed and bashful) of the philosophical that henceforth will by definition no longer be re-internalizable or sublatable by it, that will no longer even form a system with it inside philosophical Faith.
We call rigorous or “ordinary” pragmatics that which—no longer being a sub-product or a subset of philosophical Decision—is founded on science, derives from it alone, and leaves-be its object, its scientific type of object: philosophy as such. Rather than philosophically generalizing pragmatics—it could not in fact be extended to philosophy or philosophies lest it illusorily claim to constitute a meta-philosophy—we put it back on the real base of its phenomenal givens and on the infrastructure of science. This is to open it to the dimension of a radical future, of a future-without-logos or a future-without-horizon, of a Transcendence without positional closure. Whence a radically experimental practice of philosophy delivered from its circle, from its philo-centrism, from its spontaneous and overly narrow practice. Only a science of philosophy can really triumph over this.
Philosophy, science, technologies, etc. suffer from a situation that is both one of too much proximity or confusion and that of missed rendezvous. How do we “exit” this dilemma: how do we escape from the always too narrow relations of fascination and capture, bewitchment and critique, and from always deceiving and improbable rendezvous? It is perhaps advisable to no longer entrust this activity to philosophy and to instead entrust it to science, on condition, however, that science stop adoring its shackles, stop doing philosophy, and that it be tested in its originality and the truth of its thought; on condition, also, that philosophers, on this base, be constrained to change the order of their thought rather than the order of the real. The marriage between scientists and philosophers has been pronounced due to the initiative and under the authority of philosophy, but it’s not so sure that this contract can be honored by science. Rather than announcing a divorce for these weddings without true conjugality, what remains is to account for this non-consent and to reveal its origin and effects. It can no longer be a question of replacing the old alliance of science and philosophy with a New Alliance that is already stale before being born and that would prolong the philo-centric delirium merely denied and displaced. It is a question of returning to the order (of the) real that goes from science to philosophy without the least bit of recursivity; a question of rediscovering their real identity, their identity-without-identification and, consequently, their duality-without-synthesis. But not without foundation: this very identity of the One that tolerates duality. In short, the most urgent task is to announce and pronounce the dis-alliance of science and philosophy. The spirit of dissolution and generalized mélange: that’s the greatest danger. Philosophers dive into it headfirst, but they know not what they do: they draw out benefits from it that do not even return to them, that go to philosophy as such; and they make believe—on the ruins that its passage leaves in its wake—in an incommensurable fantasy: is that “thinking”?…
 [This is a reference to Berkeley’s Alciphron, or the Minute Philosopher (1732)—TN.]
 [An allusion to the dictum nailed to the door to Plato’s Academy: “None Shall Enter Without Knowing Geometry”—TN.]
 [This phrase “changement de terrain,” which Laruelle will repeat and use in many of his works, stems from the French translations of Marx’s Capital by M. J. Roy and is also noted in particular by Althusser in his Reading Capital. Interestingly enough, Marx’s German does not use this phrase but instead refers to an “unconscious substitution of questions,” and so the history of this felicitous mistranslation has led to a recurring conceptual turn of phrase that is meaningful in Laruelle’s thought—TN.]
 [For more information about the intricacies of the (non-) One and the different variations of the non-thetic, see F. Laruelle. Philosophy and Non-Philosophy, trans. Taylor Adkins. Univocal Press: Minneapolis, 2013—TN].
 [An allusion to Isabelle Stengers and Ilya Prigogine’s first joint book publication La Nouvelle Alliance (1979)—TN.]