Notes on the Preface of Laruelle’s Critique of Deleuze
“There is reason to revolt against the philosophers,” this is where philosophy, in its greatest triumph, only further encourages itself. This is the moment, when philosophy perhaps no longer recognizes the autonomy of science and art, that it denies their autonomy, and with the utmost subtlety.
Francois Laruelle, “I, the Philosopher, Am Lying: A Response to Deleuze”
Deleuze has discovered a secret — the secret or the property of philosophy, a secret which gives us the impression that it is very old and that it has been lost. He discovers the philosophical idiom, which now becomes alien to itself, but which remains an idiom precisely because it has become the language of the infinite. The language of the good news is absolutely private and absolutely universal. Their coincidence is the peak of the self-contemplation of the philosophical community. Hence the horror displayed towards transcendent artifacts like consensus and communication.
Francois Laruelle opens the preface of his remarks on Gilles Deleuze by stating that it is necessary to thank Deleuze for having said so clearly that philosophical discussion is neither interesting, or perhaps even possible, unless it is directed towards an outside of thought.
This praise should be read with more than a slight nuance. For Laruelle goes on to argue that the authors of What is Philosophy? have another interest than directing thought towards an outside: namely, in what Laruelle distinguishes as “laying claim to philosophical naivete.” [Laruelle, “I, the Philosopher, Am Lying: A Response to Deleuze” 1] Laruelle declares the object of such naivete to be to force us in the corner, figuratively speaking — to make us give up the secret to our tricks. They do it so well, it works.
The effect is generic, perhaps even all-too-human: through its innocent provocation, the laying-claim to “philosophical naivete” itself inevitably calls for the clarification of anyone else’s ultimate presuppositions as regards their own relationship to philosophy. Laruelle calls this “innocent” laying-claim a paradox — Deleuze abandons disputation, while succumbing to the worst excesses of communication.
It would still be wholly necessary, notes Laruelle, to explain the reasons for abandoning communication, and precisely in terms of the reality of thought. Laruelle notes Deleuze’s behavior in this case is symptomatic: the ashes of a critique of communication end up communicating only the reasons for abandoning communication.
Laruelle is rigorous on this point in particular: philosophy, if it it is able to pass for the paragon of dogmatism, the most complete form, is also that which inscribes communication, “relation,” into the essence of Being.
Here we are asked to consider Leibniz, and his concept and practice of communication. They are dogmatic and destroy themselves, Laruelle says, for they are communicated from his philosophy itself.
But what about Deleuze? It is the same paradox in reverse which affects Deleuze’s philosophy, Laruelle argues. A great deal is communicated, little understood — and even less utilized. And so perhaps, Laruelle continues, the problem is undecidable, at least in philosophical terms, since each philosophy defines for itself a concept of “communication.”
By doing so, they scramble any codes which would allow an “objective” evaluation of both communicational and non-communicational powers.
The combination of these powers, along with the power of miscommunication, defines the philosophical, according to Laruelle.
This book, What is Philosophy?, is highly anticipated, critically acclaimed, and widely successful — in short, completely assured of its own force. It makes the affect of the philosophical depend upon science and art, but not “themselves” or practically, rather upon the philosophical concept of science or art. Not upon geology, but the philosophical concept of geology; not upon x, but the philosophical concept of x. Philosophy denies the autonomy of science and art, declares their immanent practices without concepts to be heretical.
This is the point, precisely, where philosophy encourages itself to deny the autonomy of art and science with even more subtlety: Laruelle observes the “concordant” style of the work, its “local” style of reciprocal respect. He grants this is undoubtedly that within it which is opposed to communication — but is it not, he declares, also its most unapparent ruse, its greatest danger, and also the remedy itself for whoever knows how to identify in it — this last sleight of hand?
The self-affirmation of philosophy does nothing but trouble other philosophers.
Laruelle wonders: how do we make this immaculate book into a problem — a new type of problem, since it’s already the solution to the problem of what a problem is?
Suppose there is a book, Laruelle says, and that it is called What is Philosophy? Suppose further that it claims to respond to this question, and through its own existence, in its very manifestation.
It would therefore be impossible to discuss the book, because it would be at the very center of philosophy, and philosophy would be at the very center of this book. Because one does not converse with God, one does not communicate with natural phenomena.
One does not argue with Spinoza.
This book is absolute, Laruelle writes.
It has written, spoken, and made itself into a response to this question: ‘what can a book do — what can a philosophy book do, especially?’
In other words, it can do nothing but auto-write, write itself right in front of you.
And so, Laruelle asks, what could readers do — but get off on a philosophy being done without them?
Laruelle admits he can no longer give in to the tone of Deleuze’s voice, that is: if it is indeed a question of doing what they’ve done, rather than saying what they’ve said.
And perhaps, Laruelle quips, there still remains one last situation they have not foreseen: really doing what they have said they have done, or what they have only done by saying it, once again mixing doing and saying under the name of ‘creation’ — as all philosophers have.
It remains to do the immanence they say, Laruelle asserts. Laruelle is clear about the point here: not to comment on the work, not to make a problem of it, is “perhaps to no longer want to do something besides what they have done.”
Is it still perhaps possible, Laruelle asks, to really do what they have thought to do?