Los Angeles Review of Books: John Ó Maoilearca on Laruelle: Against the Digital

By John Ó Maoilearca
Los Angeles Review of Books

FRANÇOIS LARUELLE, a strange and little-known thinker, claimed to have invented something called “non-philosophy” (or, with its more recent title, “non-standard philosophy”). He purports this to be not a new theory, but a new experience, or use, of theory (philosophical to begin with, but not limited to that field). As such, for those looking for the next big thing in “Theory” (critical, philosophical, or otherwise), Laruelle’s work can only prove disappointing. He does not aim to improve upon or eclipse that of Derrida, Deleuze, or Badiou (that is, the men of the 1980s, ’90s, and ’00s, respectively): indeed, to attempt to do so would entirely miss the point of his project. For non-philosophy, the discourse of European “master-thinkers” is passé. What Laruelle offers us instead is a new way to experience philosophy: neither as the right nor wrong representation of reality (through difference, multiplicity, or eventality, as in Derrida, Deleuze, and Badiou respectively) but as a material, immanent part of it. Laruelle’s project of non-philosophy aims at nothing less than a re-vision of what counts as thought, taking it well beyond the hype of philosophical mastery and into a materialism that sees philosophy as only one kind of thinking, one part of what he calls “the One.”

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