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Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel
Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel

Non-philosophy is a concept developed by French philosopher François Laruelle (formerly of the Collège international de philosophie and the University of Paris X: Nanterre). Laruelle published on non-philosophy throughout the 1980s and 1990s. He currently directs an international organisation dedicated to furthering the cause of non-philosophy, the Organisation Non-Philosophique Internationale.

Laruelle's non-philosophy, he claims, should be considered to philosophy what non-Euclidean geometry is to the work of Euclid. It stands in particular opposition to philosophical heirs of Jacques Lacan such as Alain Badiou.


Relationship with philosophy

Laruelle claims that all forms of philosophy (from ancient philosophy to analytic philosophy to deconstruction and so on) are structured around a prior decision, and remain constitutively blind to this decision. The 'decision' that Laurelle is concerned with here is the dialectical splitting of the world in order to grasp the world philosophically. Examples from the history of philosophy include Immanuel Kant's distinction between the synthesis of manifold impressions and the faculties of the understanding; Martin Heidegger's split between the ontic and the ontological; and Jacques Derrida's notion of différance/presence. The reason Laruelle finds this decision interesting and problematic is because the decision itself cannot be grasped (philosophically grasped, that is) without introducing some further scission.

Laruelle claims that the decisional structure of philosophy can only be grasped non-philosophically. In this sense, non-philosophy is a science of philosophy. It should be noted that non-philosophy is not metaphilosophy because, as Laruelle scholar Ray Brassier notes, "philosophy is already metaphilosophical through its constitutive reflexivity". Brassier also defines non-philosophy as the "theoretical practice of philosophy proceeding by way of transcendental axioms and producing theorems which are philosophically uninterpretable". The reason why the axioms and theorems of non-philosophy are philosophically uninterpretable is because, as explained, philosophy cannot grasp its decisional structure in the way that non-philosophy can.

Role of the subject

The decisional structure of philosophy is grasped by the subject of non-philosophy. Laruelle's concept of "the subject" here is not the same as the subject-matter, nor does it have anything to do with the traditional philosophical notion of subjectivity. It is, instead, a function along the same lines as a mathematical function.

The concept of performativity (taken from speech act theory) is central to the idea of the subject of non-philosophy. Laruelle believes that both philosophy and non-philosophy are performative. However, philosophy merely performatively legitimates the decisional structure which, as already noted, it is unable to fully grasp, in contrast to non-philosophy which collapses the distinction (present in philosophy) between theory and action. In this sense, non-philosophy is radically performative because the theorems deployed in accordance with its method constitute fully-fledged scientific actions. Non-philosophy, then, is conceived as a rigorous and scholarly discipline.Template:Who

Radical immanence

The radically performative character of the subject of non-philosophy would be meaningless without the concept of radical immanence. The philosophical doctrine of immanence is generally defined as any philosophical belief or argument which resists transcendent separation between the world and some other principle or force (such as a creator deity). According to Laruelle, the decisional character of philosophy makes immanence impossible for it, as some ungraspable splitting is always taking place within. By contrast, non-philosophy axiomatically deploys immanence as being endlessly conceptualizable by the subject of non-philosophy. This is what Laruelle means by "radical immanence". The actual work of the subject of non-philosophy is to apply its methods to the decisional resistance to radical immanence which is found in philosophy.

See also

Twentieth-century French philosophy

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