Notes on François Laruelle’s Les Philosophies de la difference: Introduction critique (Paris: PUF, 1986).

Provided on 13 October 2009 by Anthony Paul Smith for personal use and edification. Originally posted at An und für sich <> as part of a series of notes on important texts in Laruelle’s development of non-philosophy. All quotes are my own translation, but they should be treated as rough translations not suitable for direct quotation. Also, as these are reading notes, I expect there may be spelling errors and grammatical mistakes, but hope they may still be of use. Readers are advised to look for Rocco Gangle’s translation, entitled Philosophies of Difference: A Critical Introduction to Non-Philosophy, to come out in 2010 with Continuum.

Instructions for Use
A short word about the book itself before I summarize the preface (entitled “Instructions for Use [Mode d'emploi]“. First, before anyone asks, Les Philosophies de la différence: Introduction critique (PUF, 1986) is currently being translated by Rocco Gangle for Continuum. I think we’ll see that English translation come out sometime in mid-2010 in an affordable hardback and then a year later in paperback. In Laruelle’s own history of non-philosophy this work is placed in the period called “Philosophy II”. This is the period of non-philosophy where Laruelle intentionally begins to develop his science of philosophy. The negative finding of this science of philosophy is in the theory of the philosophical Decision as the invariant structure of all philosophy. The philosophical Decision is the structure that dooms philosophy to a hallucinatory specularity, blinding it to the Real as Real. The positive theories developed in this stage are that of the vision-in-One and the reclaiming of science’s relationship with the Real for thought. In short, this book provides the criticism of philosophy and gives us the map to avoid the traps of philosophy’s structure. A necessary prolegomena for the positive work of non-philosophy found in the works of Philosophy III and Philosophy IV (works I hope to provide notes for in the future include the magnum opus Principes de la non-philosophie and Mystique nonphilosophique à l’usage des contemporains). Laruelle begins by noting the need for “instructions” to reading the studies found in the book. In these instructions he will provide some explication on the method of the book, its ends, the interior problematic of philosophy it intends to introduce (in a critical way) as found in the most manifest problematic of contemporary philosophy (difference), and the book’s internal organization. Method: Laruelle is explicit that this is not a doxography, it is not a typical history of philosophy book. But rather it makes use of figures, texts, themes, positions, and the usual elements of philosophy as if they were objects of one problematic and undertakes a reconstruction of that problematic from the suspended material of philosophy. Laruelle is considering Difference here as the most enveloping and comprehensive problematic of contemporary philosophy from Nietzsche onwards. The task of this work is not to show what particular thinkers thought about Difference 1

(one might say “thought they thought”), but to use names like “Nietzsche”, “Heidegger”, “Derrida”, and “Deleuze” as indicies, indications of problems, the limits and the possibilities in the problems, etc., and to bring out the “syntax” of philosophy. While the book aims to be an introduction it does so not descriptively, but critically of the thinkers it introduces. Ends: The goal of the book is not primarily criticism. Laruelle mocks the usual philosophical commentary industry tactics of writings books. Either the author shows that there are no problems in the thinker examined or it claims to have found the insurmountable problem in the thinker or it claims to know the thinker better than the thinker himself and to provide a new Hegelianism beyond Hegel or new Spinozism beyond Spinoza. For this kind of writing philosophy becomes primarily criticism, whereas for Laruelle’s project the criticism is secondary and an effect of the transcendental approach to philosophy. Its real end is to develop a theory of philosophy itself in order to exit the trap of philosophy. It does so in its “scientific theory” of the philosophical Decision. Internal Problematic: Firstly, Laruelle appears to be resolutely humanist. It is this non-philosophical humanism of “immanent man” that he sets against the problematic of Difference or rather demands that Difference be thought through. He writes, “philosophy is made for man, not man for philosophy (10).” It is with this in mind that he then states a major thesis for the book, “We experiment here, in this case from Difference, from Heidegger and Derrida principally, and from Nietzsche and Deleuze also, with the “thesis” that, in the One (in the sense we have extended to it), we find the radical unity of man and of knowledge [savoir] the most immanent and the most real (10).” We are warned not to confuse unity with unitary philosophy. Instead unity refers to the privileged mode of knowing that science has of the Real, which Laruelle names “gnosis” in honour of the forgotten martyrs of greco-occidental philosophy. It begins by taking up the forgetting of Being in the name of the One. According to Laruelle the One, as found in Dualists and Gnostics, is the minoritarian position in thought even as it is the scientific one. The task then becomes to think Being from the thought of the One and not, as has been the case, the One from ontology. The One is beyond ontological systems and open to the Real that is irreducible to a unitary conception of Being or the One or Difference. Organization: Laruelle then summarizes each chapter. The first chapter establishes the conditions of possibility for a real and scientific critique of Difference and the philosophical Decision in general. It explains his concept of the “vision-in-One”. The second chapter examines the syntax of Difference, though with the problem of Finitude (which will become a major theme in the chapters on Heidegger and Derrida) suspended as this chapter deals with thinkers of the infinite (Deleuze and Nietzsche). The third chapter examines the reality of Difference and introduces the irreducible dimension of Finitude as “ontic” and “real”. The fourth chapter analyses the overlapping of Difference and Finitude in order to overcome the opposition of “Concept” and “finite Difference”. The fifth chapter considers the work of Derrida in order to show the interior of the universal and invariant schema of Difference. Here the Jewish-Occidental philosophy of Derrida overturns the Greek-Occidental philosophy of Nietzsche and Heidegger through a radical concept of finitude. This is, however, an idealist overcoming of the prevailing hierarchy. The following two chapters continue this overcoming but through a replacing of the idealist elements with the Vision-in-One and begins the real critique of Difference. The sixth chapter is the most fundamental and shows how the One in its rigorously transcendental essence is required and denied by Difference. That the One has been forgotten. It goes on to 2

examine scientific and non-philosophical aspects of the real critique of Difference. The seventh chapter moves past the specific problematic of Difference to develop the theory of the philosophical Decision using the tools uncovered through the preceding studies. It is in order to move past the aporias of both Greek-Occidental and JewishOccidental philosophy that non-philosophy undertakes its transcendental science. This is not primarily a criticism of philosophy, but a critical introduction to the practice of non-philosophy.

Chapter 1 – Introduction: From the aporias of Difference to the Vision-in-One
The first section is entitled, “How Difference became a philosophical decision”. Difference is understood here as a name for the constellation which assembles certain contemporaries in complex relations but nevertheless remain in proximity to one another. This means Nietzsche and Heidegger but also those who follow after them (Foucault, Deleuze, Derrida). Difference is the shadow of the old Greco-occidental world. The dominance of “Being” on thought came to be replaced, partly due to Heidegger’s own thinking, by “Difference”. Difference isn’t an Idea or a category, but rather a syntax and concrete invariant of philosophy. “Difference is a syntax, a manifesting of articulating philosophical language. It is also a thesis of reality, a certain experience, itself multiple, of the real (16).” It is a functional unity of both syntax and experience which elevates it to the level of a principle – real and “transcendentally” logics – and in this way is an instance of the philosophical Decision that can be found in other such principles (Contradiction, Existence, Structure). Laruelle then summarizes the historical ascendency of Difference in 20th Century philosophy, tracing its importance in diverse fields like semiotics and phenomenology. This arises at the same time as the “thinking of limits” occurs in Nietzsche and Heidegger as inscribed in the metaphysics of “End” and “Limit”. For all that it still appears as yet another variation within philosophy itself of the philosophical Decision that has the invariant structure of claiming to close the network on its own openness, but it does so by supplementing this way with the alterity that renders it preferable to anterior attempts. How does Difference become a real principle or a philosophical decision? First, it elaborates the properties of its syntax and this gives it a real and transcendental essence. Secondly, now raised to the level of a transcendental it joins the ranks of “Being” and “Unity”. As a category it assumes some pregiven ontic reality, yet it rises to the level of decision when it is freed from this double subjection and becomes itself that Unity, capable of (at the same time) bringing itself about, determining its syntax, its own transcendental experience of reality, and of carrying out the genesis of empirical reality. Thirdly and finally it must thematize its syntaxical structure. So Laruelle will concern himself with the question of uncovering the syntax that we call “Difference” and how to distinguish it from other syntaxs, like “Dialectics”. Further to that question Laruelle asks what is the specific experience, or rather experiences, of the real that animate that specific syntax and render it concrete? What kind of real is it that articulates and specifies it each time? Is it Being, Subject, Spirit, Power [Puissance], the Other and if so, what Other? 3

He hazards some thoughts on the philosophical Decision that will be developed more as the book progresses. A philosophical decision is each time the total unity of comembership and co-penetration of a syntax and an experience of that which it calls the “real”. It determines the one and the other reciprocally and individualizes them until it renders them undecidable. Against this Laruelle posits the “thinking from One”, which he says is not a decision but a “science”, that denies its dismemberment, as if being pulled by horses, between a syntaxical side and a real side. Thus, the analytic of Difference will require two descriptions. The first will be that of syntax and the problems of philosophical syntax. The other will be that of real experiences that suppose the idea of a syntax destined to articulate them, in this case that of Difference, and which will be able to introduce us to the problems of philosophical materiality and reality. “How Difference has requisitioned the One” Of course, the One is not completely foreign to discussions of Difference. Difference is in this case a repetition of the most ancient Greco-occidental question – that of duality-as-unity, or how to think the unity or the passage of a contrary to the other – and presents itself as a solution to that question. The contemporaries have largely asked the same Greek question and responded by requiring the One and placing it in differing models of the dialectic, where it stands for the unity of the contraries. The question Laruelle wants to ask is if we have exhausted the One, its essence its own “evidence”, in Difference. Polis, Physis, and Kosmos are names of the Same, and the Same serves to order and conjoin the being in the One. The One is understood here to be the Whole, or the Whole is as One, which allows us to drift off into a philosophical slumber. Waking to the One as such, to its essence which distinguishes it from that of the Same and its cosmological tautology, is the condition for understanding the absurdity that is the emergence of the cosmos and nature. Difference is a theory and practice of “mixture” [mixte], but mixture as such, in their essence mixed. These “mixed” are what generate or give place to the fundamental aporias of Greco-occidental thought. Difference is the thought of the aporia as such. “How a theory of Difference is possible” Some may object that it is possible to find a invariant common to Heidegger, Nietzsche, Derrida, and Deleuze. To assuage that suspicion Laruelle discusses deploys Heidegger’s own insistence that a “turn” did not occur in his thought and that there is an invariant aspect to Heidegger’s own thought even as it changes in many ways throughout its development. Laruelle does not deny that there is the Difference of Heidegger, or that of Deleuze, that of Derrida, etc., but what is common to them all is refusing to think the minority position of the One as such that is indifferent to Unity as described by philosophers with regard to Difference and Dialectic. The one is that which it distinguishes absolutely from the philosophical decision – under the form of a unilaterial duality, without reciprocity or reversibility – a domain of reality that Laruelle calls the effectively and which contains all entities, philosophical or not, which are obtained by the unitary combination of the two parameters of immanence and transcendence, which are then mixed (the best model for this is the philosophical Unity-of-contraries). The one is not that which distinguishes the mixed (this would be to repeat the old philosophical gesture of transcendence), rather the One is that which is sufficiently finished or “autonomous” 4

by constraining the mixed. The power of distinction belongs to the One, but it affects the philosophically mixed and not the One itself. Laruelle aims to unilateralize Difference then, to take it as if it were the object of the One, indifferent to the aporias it creates. “The Greco-Occidental invariant” Laruelle recognizes the actual limits to this project and recognizes that in many ways it will remain in the aporias of Unity and Multiplicity, Universal and Singular, etc., but the object of the studies is to awaken philosophers to a problem, or rather (he says) a non-philosophical experience that is likely to found a rigorous science of philosophy. This invariant is seen in the combination, each time philosophy thinks object = X, of an immanence and a transcendence, of an ideality and a supposed real. This combination has regularly been called “difference” [which explains why Laruelle is focusing on Difference as a privileged site of the philosophical decision as this is the structure of the decision – APS]. There are two kinds of duality, one that is rejected by Laruelle and one that is given a different sense. The first is the duality of religious dualists (Gnostics) and poorly formed philosophy (the unity-duality dialectic of Difference). The second is a unilateralization of a second term by the One which does not assert the second term and consequently is not determined by it. A duality transcendentally founded in a thinking of the One allows one to pull out at the root the ancient mode of Western thought – Difference in the model of Unity-tension or of the One-Multiple. [Nonphilosophical duality is still at this point obscure. – APS] By showing that there is a invariant parallelism of the empirico-transcendental Laruelle will show how the three understandings of Difference in Heidegger, Nietzsche, and Derrida are different “Differences”, but share the same structure Greco-occidental thought (which is the parallelism of the empirico-transcendental). “From science to the critique of Difference” Laruelle has repeatedly claimed that this work will develop a description and a critique of difference whose foundation is both scientific and transcendental. He clarifies here that transcendental does not here indicate an ultimate circular syntax, but an experience that (when reduced to its essence) is the veritas transcendentalis tested as such and distinguished from rationalist and subjectivist use. The one is that indivision that forms the essence of all the transcendentals (Being, Diversity, Contingency, Necessity, Truth and the Good, etc.). Yet even this can become an error or become trapped in philosophy. Laruelle’s discourse about the One is about the One as irreflective [irréfléchie] or absolutely immediately given transcendental experience and non-thetic (of) itself. Absolutely immediate because the One of the Indivision is given (in) self without passed by the mediation of a universal horizon, of nothingness, of ecstasy or scission, of “distance”. It is irreflective meaning it is absolutely singular and autonomous as such from all universals (form, sense, relation, syntax, difference, etc.). It is then “unarity” [unarité] to distinguish it from philosophical “Unity”. The unarity is inherently immanent (of) self and non-thetic (of) self, just as unity is always immanent and transcendent.


The goal of the thought from One is to escape the hallucinatory thinking of Difference, which is the form of Greco-occidental aporia and the philosophical Decision, in order to see in the One a principle not only transcendental but also absolutely real and capable of founding Difference itself without exhausting it, in its essence, through using it. The power of the One is this, according to Laruelle, - in the unilateralization of philosophy it throws into the abyss or casts in the light of indifference the alienation that man carries with him into the World as a foreigner. The unilateralization does not allow us to step outside the World, of philosophy and of its mixtures, but rather gives us access that is indifference and inalienable to the World as to the philosophies therein.

Chapter 2 – Syntax of Difference
“Difference as Form of Order [forme d’ordre]” The One, as its essence is saved from the philosophical decision, is no Difference and has no need of it. But difference is a philosophical interpretation of the One and does have need of it. This chapter thus deals with the question of how to pass from the One (concretely and absolutely without-division) to the syntax of Difference as the articulation of the philosophical decision and thus to the minimum or residual syntax of all possible philosophy. Difference is an inclusive dis-junction in which each “neither… nor…” and “not”, though negative, produce or immediately give the Indivision. In this way we can see that the philosophies of Difference repeat a fundamental gesture from neoplatonism – the via negationis. This is a philosophical technology that is traditional and found in “the adventures of transcendence and decision (38).” The One is not “unified unity” (for this would mean it was divisible) but “unifying unity”, this being the transcendental sense of the One rather than empirco-ideal. [Note there is a subtle differentiation here about “unities” in Laruelle. The One (a name for the Real) is a unifying unity because it cannot be itself split (even if we try to split it it remains indifferent to this “artificial” splitting) while the objects of thought, even non-philosophical thought like “unified theories”, can be split up into their parts and rearranged in an infinite amount of mutations. – APS] The operation of Difference is neither sub-sumption nor surper-sumption [Aufhebung], but is something like a “co-sumption”. This means that it is beyond the contrariness of the one and the other, subsumption and supersumption. Difference is immediate-Scission-as-Unity, a Becoming-as-Being, an immobile movement, a transcendental hesitation. This locates the syntax of Difference in this constant production of “Indivision” despite the divisions at place because of Difference. Difference is grounded, without knowing it, in the authentic One. This isn’t a tautology (Difference is not the same thing as the One even if it is dependent upon it as a unifying unity), for the One as non-thetic (of) self is never a tautology, but a only the necessary and not sufficient condition for all logic (including the tautologous). “Passage form the meta-physic form to the transcendental form of Difference” Difference is not a simple “fact”, with Nietzsche and Deleuze it becomes a principle for contemporary philosophy. This shows the common charateristics with the 6

philosophical decision which is always in effect a discourse in double or doubly articulated. One side of the discourse interprets Difference according to the disparity and multiplicity and the other according to unity. A philosophical syntax is always real in the sense that it must be realized in a process, and not in a formal mechanism. An example of an empirical factum that is one part of the philosophical syntax of difference is the various modes of “being-able” [pouvoir-être] in philosophies of difference (“ active forces” of Nietzsche, “desiring machines” of Deleuze [and Guattari –naughty, naughty Laruelle], the “possibilities-of-being” of Heidegger, “textual forces” of Derrida). In each of these cases, Laruelle argues, we have a second transcending in addition to the absolute transcendence present in philosophy. The concepts which come out of these factums of “being-able” foster an immanence which repeats transcendence in its origin and ontic destination. “The impossible overcoming of metaphysics” Difference is interior and exterior to metaphysics or to representation. “Overcoming of metaphysics” is a very metaphysical formula already, and indicates a problem which Difference is the solution to. “Overcoming” is the same operation of metaphysical transcendence, but applied to all metaphysics. Difference is then what guards metaphysics as such and renders it impossible to overcome because it resists any reified exclusion of contraries and is not only a thinking towards the One but, in its essence, the movement of the One “in” itself. Transcending towards the One (Unity, not the authentic One) is able to be overcome, but transcending as One, that is not possible to overcome. “The three stages of Difference” Difference (in all its forms and in each of the thinkers of the study) pass by three stages which continually chain it and finally define the double articulation of the philosophical decision in general: 1) Difference as present in the object-being, ontic difference, and that to which it correspeonds, the category of difference – all of this is the empirical level of Difference. This is all under the law of a representative and transcendent unity. 2) Difference as “ontological difference”, the transcendence of presence by relation to a being present. This operation releases transcendence in its relation to the origin, in its relative to the object-being or present. 3) Difference no longer as metaphysical or ontological, but transcendental (in the rigorous sense of a thought of the One that is from immanence as such and overcomes every empirical, generic and even ontological division). “Generalization of the passage from the categorical to the transcendental” The passage from the categorical to the transcendental can be extended beyond the usual concepts (Nothing, Being, Difference itself) to all the categories of thought. Laruelle describes here how the categories of thought become transcendental actors. So the Nothing nothings, the Essence essences, Language speaks, Desire desires or is desiring, the World worlds, etc. In doing this, for instance by saying the Nothing 7

nothings, the philosopher creates a co-membership of Nothing with Being as well as beings. There is a problem here as is evidenced in the “Language speaks”, for it tells us nothing about language – it isn’t even a thesis on language! – but instead is a form of a transcendental tautology. Difference, Laruelle says we can now see, is an a priori principle. The syntax of Difference makes it the essence of Being, Nothing, Desire, Power, Text, etc., but it is the same as their coupling. Yet, for all this, saying that Difference is the essence of being is not ontological, saying that Difference is the essence of Language is not linguistic, etc.

Chapter III – Reality of Difference
“From Syntax to the reality of Difference” Difference thinking itself or reflecting itself implies the disjunction and belonging between syntax and reality, the articulation of the real and the experience of the real articulated. This chapter examines the reality of difference in that disjunction. In order to consider the reality of Difference Laruelle has recourse to the philosophical discussion about finitude. He describes the Heideggerian notion of “Finitude” in quasi-Kantian terms as the irreducible distinction of being in self in relation to the objective or present being, the ob-ject. Opposed to this is the Nietzschean raising of Finitude to the auto-position of Being as essence. This is inseperated from the idealist and classic metaphysical spirit. “The difference of Heidegger in relation to idealism” Difference in the Heideggerian sense “destroys” or “deconstructs” the rationalized or transcendental forms, but remains transcendental in the larger sense where it is already a thought of the One (though along the model of Being). In Heidegger’s philosophy it is the “History of metaphyics” that forms the factum of his philosophical decision and there is no philosophical decision without a prior reduction of the idealist kind which isolates the object to deconstruct and constructs it as factum. However, this notion of factum is complicated by the original conception of “Finitude” found in Heidegger. Finitude is a thesis about reality that does not allow for any idealist reduction. Reductions are always philosophical decisions, but one is an idealist decision and the other is a “finitist” decision. The idealist reduction suspends the thesis that the real exist in itself in an autonomous manner in an attempt to insert the real into immanence, though it does this as a kind of transcendence of self. The “finitist” reduction is the more radical reduction of the real (whil remaining a philosophical decision). It is a reduction of “ontic” finitude and in this way reduces even itself. This notion of finitude allows for us 1) to pose a priori the real as that which thought makes the object and 2) to conserve and include in Being, under the name of finitude, a relation to the real in its ontic transcendence. The strength of Heidegger’s relationship to that of Husserl, Nietzsche or Deleuze (remembering that these are indexes of thought) is a notion of finitude that is not idealist. “Finitude is not only a thesis about syntax, it is a thesis about reality (64).” 8

The weakness of Heidegger returns, however, is that this notion of finitude risk remaining partially idealist and dogmatic. Though Heidegger and Kant both unilaterally denounced the misguided notion of idealism that denied the real (as the factum and datum and not entirely seperable), the idealist responds that Finitude is a final concession to common sense. In this war and because it is a war, Laruelle says, there is nothing thinkable and so we must continue to describe the agon and Kampfplatz. “A maximalist hypothesis on the meaning of Finitude” Laruelle asks if Hegel’s objection to Kant’s system, the positive result which is the dialectic, works against Heidegger’s notion of finitude. Kant instrumentalizes finitude, or sees finitude as an empirical thing which leads to a discussion of being “in totality” and being “in partial” or “ particular”, but Heidegger does not have an empiricist idea about finitude and Being, but rather a “realist” one although transcendent to finitude. Beings are not created, but are constituted in and by Being. Yet there is always a real, a real condition = X, that affects Being. This thesis on finitude is incomprehensible without taking up again the Kantian theme of “thing-initself”. Finitude located in the “thing-in-itself” or an ontic finitude becomes a real transcendence in immanence itself. This real transcendence of the identity of a thingin-itself destroys the reversible immanence of Nietzsche that says objects are infinitely exchangeable. This hypothesis of ontic Finitude does not destroy the thing-in-itself but saves it from what remains in the Kantian system of dogmatism and rationalism. This real transcendence of the One beyond noumena and rational Idea is what differentiates Heidegger’s system from that of Hegel, Husserl, and Nietzsche. This real transcendence is what allows Laruelle to distinguish the syntax of Difference from the synthetic Unity of the “I think” and the real, which is the essential element of the Dialectic. Finitude, interpreted as the transcendence of the Real, an ontic transcendence and not objective-ontological transcendence, allows becoming to then become a transcendental trait that can confirm the “relay of being” by the One by way of “retreat” – even seeing the essence of Being. Finitude is thus the most powerful assault against the walls of the System. “From metaphysical meaning to the transcendental meaning of Finitude” The passage from “ontological Difference” to finite Difference is the destruction of Difference as “meta-physical”. What then remains of Difference as such in Finitude? Some repetition of the previous chapters follows here showing how this destruction takes place. The simple “ontological Difference’ was already a unifying scission of Being and being, the two being thought together as correlation. Thinking is then a repetition of that correlation of the ontological Difference by and through the One, repetition which is not eliminate the ontic reference of Being. Yet, even Heidegger’s thinking of finitude is itself limited by being a transcendental analytic [this being the form of the philosophical Decision – APS] in that it takes part of Finitude as a factum a priori. after have distinguished it from the same finitude as everyday forgetting of self. 9

Finitude is the essence of Differece, but is not that that essence without being taken up in a certain manner in difference and structured by it. Finitude as transcendental rather than metaphysical is the distinction of Being from being, but allows for a indivisible relationship between them nevertheless as the “Same”. “The overlapping of Finitude and Difference” “Ontological Difference” is not an ontological theses, it is a thesis on Finitude, on the relation of Being to beings, and consequently a thesis on the essence of Being. But the essence of Being is not itself “ontological”, the essence is the overlapping of Finitude and Being or Difference. Under the name of Finitude Heidegger allows for us to absolutely oppose the real, the “Other” of every relation of objectivation, the In-objectifiable real that is the essence of being. The reality of Difference has a primacy over the syntax of Difference. “Reversibility and irreversibility” The finitude of Difference corresponds to a primacy of the real over syntax, to which it is irreducible. But the primacy of the real over syntax also signifies that of the irreversibility over reversibility. In Nietzsche’s work Difference is a non-static equilibrium which proceded by reversibility or “passage” of a contrary to its other. The real is however not reversible. For Difference itself is irreversible, marking it as not only an immanence, but an index of a real transcendence in the double visage (unary and ontic), of an irreversibility that is never lead to bring itself in an ideal immanence. Difference has been used to try and think the real as Difference or, at best, as difference or differentiating of Difference, as Other in general. Finite Difference can not conceive of irreversibility from its positive transcendental essence, but only in a negative way. 1) By correlation with a certain empirical facticity that it takes to be the facticity of the essence of “Being” and by consequence the essence of Nothingness or the retreat and 2) by the precise recourse to (essential) Nothingness rather than Being, to the retreat reather than to the unveiling. So the essence of irreversibility remains finally in a negative mode which cannot become radically positive or the positivity remains impregnated by facticity. “From Nothingness slave of Being to finished Nothingness” Thesis of this section is that Finitude is not confused with Nothingness and Nothingness does not end if it is itself already undertaken an ending. Laruelle presents here a technical discussion and evaluation of the function of Nothingness in Heidegger. Nothingness is that which introduces in a privileged manner Finitude, but because Nothingness is interlinked with Difference (as that which unifies contraries, the Nothing nothings = Difference differences), it is important not to confuse Finitude with Nothingness itself. Nihilism is founded on the identity of Being and of Nothingness and on the opposition of Nothingness to the particular being rather than to its objectivity or even its presence. The thought that overcomes nihilism gives again to Nothingness a positive that it can only find in the 10

One, no doubt to the power of the Same rather than the “reciprocal” appearing of Being and beings, Being and Nothingness. But this is a the One as such that the way to it are found in Finitude and finished in itself, not identical to Being or the Idea, identical instead to a certain real transcendence or a retreat “outside” or “in the margins” of Being.

Chapter IV – Hegel and Heidegger
[N.B. I’m not summarizing a great deal of the technical discussion of Hegel and Heidegger here. Largely because Laruelle assumes a lot of knowledge form his reader, some of which I have and some which I do not, but also because I’m not really interested in his reading of the figures as such. Thus I try to touch on the important aspects of his own thought and so the notes for this chapter are a littler shorter than the others. – APS] “The insufficiency of syntax and the passage to Finitude” In this chapter Laruelle will explore the difference between Difference and the dialectical “Concept”, hence the title “Hegel and Heidegger”. Difference is circularity and reversibility. If one considers Difference only from the point of view of syntax it seems to give much of itself to Aufhebung. It is a reversible immanence of contraries, each opposed being one with its its other and with itself, and thus also the contrary of itself. Difference does not exceed, in the general conception of its mechanism or the syntax of its essence, the Greek horizon. The reason that syntax is insufficient to the reality of Difference is because it inscribes Difference into a question of identities and contraries, which turns out to quickly be insufficient when you ask questions about the identity itself. Thus working from syntax only is an idealist vision of reality and this is what differentiates Heidegger’s insertion of Finitude into Difference from the rest of the tradition. Finitude is not suspended by Idealism (Laruelle opposes Heidegger’s realism fostered by Finitude to the different Idealisms of Hegel and Nietzsche), but is denied by it. Hegel thinks Difference as the “mêmeté” [I am not sure how to translate this, something like identity but not quite – APS] of knowledge or Idea. Hegel was in some ways more radical than Heidegger in creating a ontological understanding of difference. Being does not appears in the knowledge of self or in the Idea except under their a priori objective structures, as object or correlate of objectification, as a diversity such that transcendence is not only determined in, but by the immanence of the Idea that remains itself in its self-objectification and self-alienation. This is not a radical alienation of being because it is only the alienation in the objectivity of the object and not in its reality as such. Nietzsche does not fundamental leave this Hegelian terrain by replacing Self-Knowledge/Pure Idea with the Will to Power, but simply moves the question to forces rather than Ideas. “Absolute Finitude: against alienation” Finitude is the essence of the Absolute, not the opposite. Only Finitude can save Difference, not from the Absolute, but from the ideal form of the Absolute. Finitude is not what alienates Difference, or what takes it outside of itself. Finitude is what destroys the dialectic and instead fosters a Conciliation-without-synthesis. A letting remain different, because actual and finite, of what is. 11

“The Absolute and its rending: pain and phenomenology” Laruelle is here concerned with developing a little more the transcendental approach against the metaphysical or ontological approaches to Finitude. In this approach Finitude is the transcendence of the One. This approach is then put to use on the common thesis that “The Absolute is identical to its rending”. For Hegel this means a focus on Nothingnes, specifically the negation of Nothingness. This is Idealism and thus not a thinking from immanence. The phenomenological method, however, takes pain as its model of immanence. In pain there is no dialectic possible, there is only pain and the forgetting of pain. [Laruelle is clearly attempting an actualist thinking. – APS] “Systematic dissolution of the resemblances of Hegel and Heidegger” The focus here is on a technical discussion of Nothingness, Finitude, and the Same in Hegel and Heidegger. Essentially the dissolution of resemblance comes down to Hegel’s Idealism that “heals too quickly” the contraries into a dialectical relief. Heidegger, however, focuses on thinking the amphibology of the ideal and the real itself, rather than healing them it thinks them from the aspect of Finitude. “The Hegel-Heidegger conflict and the impossibility of a decision” Despite all the differences of Hegel and Heidegger there is still no clear criteria for deciding between the two of them. For the two begin from different perspectives on Finitude that work within their systems, and thus foster two philosophical gestures but never a position. A philosophical decision is never able to convince itself of another one. Thus the difference between Hegel and Heidegger is a turning circle that feeds into one another just as the disjunction of syntax/real feeds into itself. What Laruelle takes from this then is that there needs to be a change of syntax (Difference still being the example of syntax par excellence), not to destroy Hegelianism by a certain notion of Finitude, but to renounce all possible syntax and abandon it to the immanent givenness of the One. With this he turns to the study of Derrida.

Chapter V – Derrida
“Derrida between Nietzsche and Heidegger” This study of Derrida is placed into the analytic of Difference. This is in order, not to denounce the philosophical decision, but to understand it within the frame of not real, hallucinatory, and required. Derrida is the thinker who carries the philosophical decision to its pure and simple aporetic dislocation. The deconstruction of metaphyics is the “truth” of it, the enlarging of it and radicalizing of it as inconsistent that characterises the non-real, purely fictional and hallucinatory that is philosophy in general. This comes with a complimentary thesis that states “the auto-dislocation of the philosophical decision is at the same time its becoming-unitary, its auto-collapse, its auto-inhibition in itself - its paralysis (122).” He is not applying deconstruction to itself. Rather this study evaluates from a non deconstructive point of view the mechanism (its validity suspended from the One) of “Differance” and of the affection of the logos by differance. Laruelle uses the capital in order to designate the glocal system of Difference (without the a) and the lower case to designate the moment of alterity, cutting, or slowing down of continuities and 12

the specificity of the system of Differance. The same goes for Deconstrution (the type) and the deconstruction (the procedure). What Laruelle hopes to show is that Differance is one of three types of Difference, the other two being the Greco-Nietzschean and Deleuzian Difference and the Heideggerian Differenz. Yet, at the same time, Derrida introduces an original and important variation into the tradition and this constitutes Derrida’s irreducibility into the philosophical field. That variation is found in the Jewish component that Derrida inserts between the Nietzschean and Heideggerain poles of Difference. Specifically, against the Greek notion of Difference and the Greek notion of finitude, Derrida presents an elaboration of Jewish finitude. Levinas does not present the same thing, as Derrida has shown a Greek symptom in Levinas as well, and so what Derrida adds is not the difference of the Greek and the Jew, but the Jewish mode of the aporia. “The Greco-Jewish amphibology and how to process it [la traiter]” Present in Levinas is an amphibology of Greek philosophy and Jewish thought, a “mixture” that is brought out by Derrida. This mixture is that of thinking radical Alterity alongside the Greek problematic of the Other and the Same. Thus in Greek philosophy it is a certain kind of immanence of the logos and in Jewish thought it is a certain kind of transcendence. Derrida’s method of deconstruction problematizes accentuates in an incredible manner the in-consistency and exteriority of Greek metaphysics and the similar in-consistency in the Levinasian figure of the Other alongside the Same. Yet, Laruelle is not claiming that Derrida repeats Levinas’ mixture of JewishPhilospher(Greek), instead he is claiming that the power of Derrida’s thought is found in his making appear or revealing what remains apparent but hidden in the amphibology. Thus, from here, Laruelle will examine the theme and practice of “relation without relation”, of the relation (?) of the relation and (?) of the non-relation where it concentrates the problem of Differance. The question marks in the preceding sentence are Laruelle’s. “The reduction of the amphibology” Deconstruction locates a double discourse at work that speaks both of relativity and absoluteness. It is impossible to separate these two discourses. The only relation Laruelle takes as his object of study is that between this relativity and absoluteness of Difference, which is a delicate point where Deconstruction has perhaps set its own symptom and that it must analyze. Deconstruction is an absolute process (in the sense of autonomy) of relativity; it is not absolute without reserve, but relative-absolute. An investigation of the “plane of Jewish alterity”, that is the insertion of the absolute alterity found in Jewish thought into Greek philosophy, is how Laruelle understands Differance to be a mode of the philosophical decision derived by inversion from Difference. Laruelle aims to actively recover Differance by reducing it to the synthetic syntax of Difference. “The recovery of Differance: as Difference” 13

This is a very difficult section to summarize. At the beginning of the book, in the preface I think, Laruelle said that there would be a kind of introduction to the Capitalism and Schizophrenia works of Deleuze (and Guattari). While this was true to some extent in the chapter entitled “Syntax of Difference” it is coming out in a rather strange way in this chapter on Derrida. In short, Laruelle seems to be using Deleuze’s work here to discuss Derrida’s work, applying the “realist” and “materialist” tools found in those works to the theme of differance in Derrida. This allows him to locate the way that continuums, from the relative to the absolute, are always a relation of connecting and cutting-off, a continuum is this relation and also is in relation to other continuums in the same way. Thus all of Derrida’s work on inconsistency and the “negative” movements of deconstruction found in the delay, differance, arrest, etc., are all merely instruments in a general an-economy that mirrors the inclusive disjunction discussed in Anti-Oedipus. Differance has the same positive identity as Deleuzian Difference; it brings together things in a disjunctive mode “at the same time”. Thus, Laruelle locates a “Jewish plane of immanence” in Derrida, which both allows him to locate this positive identity of Differance when placed into the general syntax of Difference but also foreground the specificity of Derrida’s thought. [This emphasis on specificity is something I find very interesting. For instance, while it feels somewhat wrong at first to separate Greek philosophy from Jewish thought as Laruelle does, he does not do so to deny Jewish thought the same authority as philosophy or to somehow denigrate Jewish thought. Instead, neither Greek nor Jew has any authority over the other or over the One, but both are thought from the One. This allows a certain kind of relativism that subsumes them into elements in a democracy of thought. I’m still not sure that this is entirely unproblematic as yet. – APS] “The Jewish inversion of Difference: as Differance” Rather than holding together contraries the holding together of contraries constitutes a “cadaverisation” of everything as a necessary aspect of the system. Thus Differance aims to make absolute the splitting of contraries, affirms as an unlimited yes holding them apart in their specificity, rather than making them a cadaver of the same, chocking them in the double band. Laruelle coins the phrase “Body-without-writing” [Corps-sans-écriture] to name the process of Deconstruction that conjugates and the cadaverisation and the stimulating affirmation. “The Body-without-writing or the Jewish plane of immanence” The discussion here focuses on the “unlimited Yes” that Deconstruction inherits from Zarathustra. This unlimited Yes is the same syntax as the continuum/splittingcontinuum described before. The unlimited Yes always privileges the highest side, transcendence, the expropriation (affirmative certainly), the absolutely absolute(ly) unthinkingable. But how is this affirmation possible without a prior activity? This prior activity is the syntax of the unlimited term, also called the interminable, and it is universal and the operative mechanism of differance just as much as affirmation. Cadaverisation and affirmation are two syntaxal or structural functions that co-belong. They both belong to a the system of the double band and the work that prolongs it, but also to a system outside that of the double band and its origin, a system not named by 14

Derrida and that is designated by its effects and functions, this system Laruelle calls the Body-without-writing [BwW]. The BwW is constructed along two series or two bands – the cut/cission, but one become unlimited and universal, and the continuum, but become infinite. The BwW is the Greek plane of immanence which Jewish alterity is nevertheless completely capable of – but simply denies it. The BwW is a shuttlecock of inscription, it condenses energy and intensifies the work of differance and reaffirmed the infinity of the double band. Laruelle sums up the syntax of Derrida’s, and also Deleuze’s argumentation: they absolutize the forms that the most immediately circular to destroy (he gives the example of the signified, that of the signifier or of the “symbolic”, that of representation, of presence or the identity of objects) and projects the absolute character of these forms, correlatives of a finite conscience, on the operation of their destruction and more so along the way on the instrument of their destruction (Differance, Difference). “Relatively undeconstructable” “Deconstruction is from itself to itself for itself an Undeconstructable (161)”. Yet, as the first Undeconstructable, it is completely relative in itself. Deconstruction is the univocity of the system-of-the-Other, the Jewish plane of immanence. Thus it is relatively undeconstructable because its undeconstructability is its deconstructability (the amphibology of the Same and Difference). The decline of Deconstruction is brought on by its suture to the syntax of Difference. The more Derrida works and analyses, the more he contemplates agglutination or an infinite gluing together of objects for contemplation. “On the good use of Derrida: How the Greek logos overcame its Jewish challenge” Laruelle repeats much of what was written above about the contribution of Derrida’s work. He ends by saying that Derrida shows us how Jewish thought already compromises with Greek philosophy when it risks doing philosophy. It loses any radical position vis-à-vis the philosophical decision. It compromises with the Greek problematic of Difference and the Greek plane of immanence. A summary of the invariant structure of Difference through the book thus far: 1) Nietzsche gave Difference its absolute and idealist metaphysical form 2) Heidegger gave Difference its finite and “real” or ontico-Greek form, i.e. anti-idealist 3) Derrida gave Difference a finitude no longer ontico-Greek or real, but Jewish, in reversing the “terms” of relation that it constitutes, and thus recognized in it, indirectly, a necessity: beyond it simple presence as historical text to deconstruct.

Chapter IV: Critique of Difference
“Of the One as ground [fondement] of critique” “Of philosophy in general, of Difference in particular, we want a non philosophical critique… The One is a immanent Unity – but radically immanent under a form non 15

thetic that philosophy has not been able to programme – of philosophy and of the science of the philosophy, of its real critique as well (169).” Is the One immediately given? Not in the empirical sense of the world, because nothing of the empirical is really immediate, but in the of “a thoughtless transcendental experience or devoid of transcendent content (170).” This not a Greek One, it is the breaking away from the Greek metaphysical One that is always reducible to Being and Nothingness. The One is the imperishable demand of reality that precedes everything, even philosophy. It does not operate in the same way as Difference, bringing together the identities of beings and man or man and God. This is the transcendental use that Difference makes of the One. Instead this is a gnosis of the One, but one that is a transcendental science rather than theological, a gnosis stripped of its mysticism. The essence of science is the dissolution of centres and mixtures. The one is the object of a transcendental experience that is not thetic (of) self, an absolute experience of self, that signifies it’s immediately given (in) itself as that which it is. Indivision is given (in) itself, it is “unthought” or immediate.
[Laruelle introduces the term “mysticism” [mystique] here. The meaning of this is

complicated by his syntax. He differentiates between mysticisme, « le » mystique, and « la » mystique. This will be explained a little bit below, in the course of these notes I’ll use “the” mysticism for « le » mystique and no article for « la » mystique. For mysticisme I’ll simply note the word choice in brackets. For those curious, mystique is feminine in French. – APS] Delivering the transcendental truth from metaphysical ends is perhaps the ways of recovering the irreducible “mysticism” from every philosophy. Laruelle’s introduction of the word mysticism is not meant to convey the normal use of mysticism, which is a kind of dogmatic ascent or a salto morale to some decision. “The” mysticism is the essence of philosophy, which hides its essence. He summarizes the three uses of mysticism: 1) “The” mysticism signifies an immediate donation of the One, of the Other in the radical immanence of the One, and the giving of Indivision as if and as separated from the Whole; 2) mysticism claims an immediate donation of the Other within that which it retains of him despite every theological transcendence; 3) mysticism [mysticisme] claims immediate donation of Being or of the Whole of reality. “The reality of the critique of the philosophical decision” Difference is unassailable on its own territory. So for a critique of Difference, and the philosophical decision, to happen it must happen from a different position outside or as a mutation of philosophy. That position is from the One (what he will later call the vision-in-the-One and in later works simply vision-in-One). In its essence the One is not transcendent. It is absolutely separated from beings and Being and it is so only by its real immanence in itself. In reality it is not the One which is separated from Being, it is Being which is separated form the One, it is not the One that is the Other of Difference, it is Difference which is the Other of the One. The One is the reality of the critique of Difference, the position from which one must begin, because it outside of Difference. Yet, none of this is to inaugurate a supreme operation that reigns over philosophy. Such an operation is not tolerated by the real and this is not finally the 16

last discourse on the real: “one does not leave philosophy by the One, one describes the vision-in-the-One of philosophy (173).” “Difference is ultimate “founded” as such in the One – i.e. in the thoughtless transcendental experience of immanence – but it makes use of the One which denies that experience, it is thus obligated to render it infinitely “iterable”, becoming it own stake, becoming-difference of Difference which has in “being” Self because it has finale accepted the mediation of the One, the source of the Self (174).” Laruelle here gives a descriptive definition of science: “Science is a non-thetic representation (of the) real, in fact completely distinct from that which philosophy imagines as Representation (177).” It gives its nature strictly immanent and transcendental, its essence is not positional of self, and this is not a representation in the usual sense. Yet science is not the answer to the philosophical decision, on the One is. Only an absolute science, from the One, will allow us to “take leave” of Nietzsche, Heidegger, and Difference in general, which never understand man, instead confusing man with philosophy. Philosophy is the Other of man. “The impotence of Difference in absolute Being [être]” The end of Difference is absolute becoming. But the mode it does this by in pulling up transcendence to its relativity to being, to the presence of being. This is how transcendence becomes inscribed in immanence, but this transcendence is not possible without the immanence it inscribes itself within. Being of man tends towards the One. This inscription tries to split the One, to make the One co-appear as universal retreat of the thing in itself and the essence of the thing known. The One is absolutely other to “object-being”. The duplicity of Difference is that it uses the One, it captures it for its own profit, in order to render it absolutely other than its ontological form, but to contradict in the last moment the transcendental truth of the One. The One is no longer absolutely metaphysically indeterminable; it is compromised by remaining with the relativity of Being. All of this obscures the essence of the One. The One in its essence is the positive absence of form. Difference introduces mediation into the One, it reintroduces from outside the essence of the One. Absolute difference is an interminable desire, but it is not the Absolute itself. “Philosophy is in general the dissolution of the Absolute, the spirit of scepticism and war doubled against the real, the most constant attempt to corrupt and destroy the individual (185).” The One does absolutely transcend, but is not any kind of theological transcendence as found in the theological origins of the thing-itself and Finitude. It is the absolute transcendence of the real, “that separation that the real impose rather in the world (186).” [The meaning being that the real, of which the One is a non-metaphysical name, transcends the world or is not changed by the world but determines the world. – APS] “The One as guardian of metaphysics” Laruelle here delves into a medieval problematic about the place of the transcendentals in securing knowledge. He turns to this problematic because contemporary thinking is a thinking-to-the-limit, while no similar contempt is present 17

for “terms” and the individual, which all shares in a parallel obsession with “relation”. The transcendentals trace the limits of thought, often ending in Representation. Limits are Represented in thought by the transcendentals. For a limit is not thought of in itself, only in the unconscious. The drama of classical and modern transcendental thought has been to tear it between its end (immanence) and its medium (transcendence) – this is the Decision. Now the transcendental tradition uses the One and the other transcendentals in order to establish the a priori or meta-physics itself, it seeks to “save” and “think” metaphysics. Of the transcendentals, which appear to be compromised in philosophy by their “transcendental tautologies”, the One is the superior form because it is the real becoming of the transcendentals. Whereas the other transcendentals are split between their identity and empirical action (“Being beings”, “Nothing nothings) the One is not a tautology in this sense. The One does not one. While Difference has been the main theme for contemporary philosophy, raising to the level of a transcendental (“Difference differentiates”) it does not save metaphysics. It only saves the most inferior and reified modes of metaphysics (Representation, Logocentrism) and extends its essence, the scission or transcendence. Every positive identity of Nothing, Desire, Language is found elsewhere than in themselves with Difference (as the Same). Rather than restoring the truth of Being, the task becomes restoring the same essence of truth as such that it is no longer ordained to safeguard ontological or metaphysical difference. It no longer cares for or worries about Being [I wonder how this thought can help in critical animal studies and their tarrying with Heidegger’s anthropocentrism. – APS]. Laruelle here has a great line about labouring under a “Samaritan piety” where we care and guard Greco-Western metaphysics and all the assumed (contemporary) transcendentals that come with it (Being, Language, Desire, Text, Power, etc.). But Laruelle cannot yet begin with “man” or “self” because under philosophy man is nothing without these transcendentals, he has no essence. Thus he must first restore the solitude of man outside of philosophy (and the theological, political, and economic wants). In so doing it will restore the essence of truth and of science. “And only the essence of truth as transcendental and the transcendental as given non-thetic (of) self can save the truth from the tasks of guarding metaphysics or of onto-theo-logy where it risks losing it essence and winning a soul, a history, a desire, a language, etc (194).” [The point appears to be that the One shouldn’t be understood as the guardian of metaphysics as such. – APS] “The philosophical hallucination of the One” In many ways what Laruelle presents here on the One appears, he says, to be a parody of Neo-Platonism. But in Neo-Platonism the One does not present a choice between Being and the One, but poses the task of thinking their coinciding or their indecision. Laruelle’s One inaugurates a thinking which is hypo- and super-static and, in this sense only, non-“static” and “positional”. “For the One, the World is a redundancy (196).” “The amphibology of the real and ideality and the auto-dislocation of philosophy” 18

This section repeats much of what has already been said about amphibology, this time focusing on the real and the ideality of the real. In philosophy the real is obscured through the ambiguity of what is real with the syntax of thinking that real. The real is mixed with the thought of the real. [This is explained in a much clearer way in Principes de la non-philosophie where he argues that the thought of X is mixed with X itself such that one isn’t thinking either one in their essence, but the mixture of the two being taken for one or the other. – APS] He does give here a descriptive definition of the real [later the Real] from the aspect of the One. The One in-self and irreflective [irréfléchi – In the notes I have translated this as “unthought” in a number of spots, which also works, but only if you remember that for Laruelle philosophical thinking is marked by a narcissistic reflective thinking. Irréfléchi captures both of these senses, but I’m not sure how to do that in English and will leave it to Rocco to figure it out! - APS] distinguishes the regions of the transcendental-empirco mixture by a “real” transcendental distinction. No longer, as it was in Heidegger (on Laruelle’s reading) an ontic real or the real = ontic, but the sphere of unthought immanence of the One. “The transcendental distinction is here founded in “in the nature of things”, in it reality that is neither ontic nor ontological. It is no longer simply formal, this transcendental reality is only that of the One (202).” “The impotence in thinking the individuals and multiplicities” It would seem that thinking multiplicities would get us out of the Greco-Western trap of thinking the One or the Other, Being and Nothingness, etc. Instead of thinking the One, why not think multiplicities? Laruelle locates two problems with this, which he warns are very difficult to analyse. [He isn’t kidding. This is the hardest section of the book thus far and I’m not quite sure I understand it, but will make an attempt to summarize. – APS] 1) The law of the chiasm, which is the essence of Difference in general. There is a co-appearance/belonging of Being and being that is reversible in their unity. But that reversibility is limited. 2) The problem of the multiplicity of being or of the real that enter in the chiasm. In short, it appears that this isn’t the way to begin thinking because it remains ontological, but now intra-ontological. It doesn’t secure any transcendental knowledge, but continues using the structures of philosophy (the mixture of transcendental-empirco) of Being and beings, but now under the figure of the “diverse”. In this thinking the One is still enchained in external task transcendent to its own essence. It is in the logic of the One and Being. But, Laruelle asks, what is the essence of the thought? This logic? Or the vision-in-the-One?

Chapter VII – Theory of the Philosophical Decision
“From the Undecideable to the theory of the philosophical decision” Every system of Difference (philosophy), even those of Finitude, have posed the question, what is the essence of the philosophical act? But they have not been able to pose that question outside of that essence and that is the problem of a real logic of the philosophical decision and the status of a principle of real non philosophical [no dash in original] choice in philosophy. The only point of view that is radical immanent and 19

transcendental to the philosophical decision is that of the “immediation” of the nonthetic (of) self, that is the One. “The (non-)One and the contingency of the philosophical decision” What are the effects of the One on the philosophical decision? Laruelle says there are two kinds. This section explains the first and the following explains the second. The first is the manifestation of a hallucinatory character of the non-real of the decision that is rejected in turn through a radical contingency that is the correlate of the One. Laruelle gives a general definition of the philosophical decision: “In general, a philosophical decision is a break [coupure] – repeated and revived – towards an empirical or, more generally, given singularity and, at the same time, and an identification with an idealizes law that it gives, supposing itself then real, a transcendence towards the truly real. It is a relation and it adjusts itself each time according to the real assumed given and reduced, and of the real assumed achieved and affirmed (215).” Yet there is a realization of the radical contingency of this relation. There is no sufficient reason why the law and empirical singularity. This radical contingency is given the name (non-)One by Laruelle. This naming unilateralizes the decision, because it is derived from the One as its effect and the weak negation of the decision it has. The (non-)One is transcendent to the situation, but an absolute transcendence rooted in immanence. This means that it is a non-positional transcendence and unobjectifiable. The (non-)One is not real in the strict sense, so not by its essence. But it is that which is real in every transcendence, that which may-be by a radically finite subject. Finitude is not equal to the One, but it witnesses to a dereliction that only the One can claim to recast the “thing-in-itself” under the form of absolute transcendence but this absolute is nevertheless measured by the immanent essence of the One. The real is, apart for the One, is a diversity in itself or non-positional transcendence, that never falls under experience (not the real as such). It is a diverse principal, unobjectifiable, entirely determined as such, and not empirical “given”. Thus, since it comes from the One, the (non-)One escapes completely the objectification of the empirical and ideal it unilateralizes the philosophical decisions (Difference, Being, etc.), not allowing them to return to or oscillate between the empirical and the transcendental. It is a radical de-position of Being by the One. “Non-thetic Transcendence (NTT)” The second effect of the One on the philosophical decision is what Laruelle calls nonthetic Transcendence. It is the transcendent core at the base of every philosophical decision. It is the very possibility of a philosophical decision, its Apriori real [this isn’t a mistake, this is how he writes it in the book. –APS] This Apriori real is a mode of the special real that is the (non-)One. It shows that the One is indifferent to the internal conflicts of Difference, staged in this work a choice between Hegel, Heidegger, Nietzsche or even between Derrida and Deleuze. This is the true content of these conflicts and dialectics of Difference – an essence non thetic of transcendence that they refuse to pay attention to. “The abyss of the philosophical decision” 20

There is an abyss in the philosophical decisions between the (non-)One and NTT (as effects of the real). The (non-)One is the possibility of the decision, the ground of the decision as such, and NTT is the element of choice that is radically indifferent to the claims of the philosophical decision. One moves from the (non-)One to the NTT by considering the (non-)One itself as a mode relative to the World and the NTT as the affectivity of that mode that shows there is an other-than-empirical contingency to the systems of Difference. “The Nietzsche-Heidegger conflict and its indifference” Considering the philosophical decisions from the aspect of the effects of the One [as (non-)One and NTT] one can see how the philosophical decisions are equivalent to one another. All of them promote some given and their insertion in an a priori fact resting on an absent principle of sufficient reason. Thus, taking the indifference of the One towards the various philosophical decisions allows us to deny certain things to philosophy. For instance, Being is no longer something more than a historical factum of Greco-Western thought. “Difference: denigration [dénégation] of the real” Difference, and the other philosophical decisions (Being, Nothingness, Presence, etc.), denigrate the real through a process of auto-position of themselves. This autoposition confuses their own decisions with the real itself, and posits anything like what Laruelle is doing as saddled between the question of dogmatism or scepticism. Yet, as a philosophical decision Laruelle shows that these things have a history, a becoming, but more importantly they remain relative to a matrix that is far more powerful then them, the matrix of mixture. The (non-)One and the NTT manifest this matrix and thereby show the absurdity of the absolute claims made by the philosophical decision. “Critique of the philosophical decision” It is the One is its immanence that creates the apperception of non horizontal Transcendence as one of the two origins of Difference and which denounces the objective absurdity of that final procedure of philosophy and philosophy generally. This is no longer about suspending all the transcendent philosophical positions, but of indifferentiating every operation of suspension, of rendering the reduction useless if it attempts to look outside the essence of the veritas transcendentalis. This truth, which is the truth of the One, can’t be placed. Truth isn’t in the margins or in the centre. Being has a topology, but there is no topology of the One. “The Vision-in-the-One and the decision in favour of ‘dualism’” According to the results obtained here, Laruelle must thematize his own reasoning for the real critique of Difference; in short, it is his “decision” in favour of a dualism against Greco-Western difference. First, a short summary of what has happened so far. In the interior of the radical suspension undertaken by the (non-)One Difference was unilaterlized, rejected and derived without return. But the passage of the (non-)One to the NTT assumes that we can place it again from the point of view of Difference without leaving the experience of the One which serves immanence and leads to the scientific and no longer philosophical description of the philosophical decision. The NTT is itself affected by 21

the (non-)One and by its indifference, but it assumes the validity, in its order, of a philosophical type of given (Being, Difference, or some other effective decision). The dual of the One and of the mixtures of the effectivity is accompanied by the duality of the One and the (non-)One and follows the dualism of the One and the NTT. What the philosophical decision does with this dualism is first sees in it a contradiction and thinks the solution is to rid itself of the NTT. Yet this leads to a contradiction since it is itself a dualist thinking that can only be birthed in the spirit of Difference or Being. Philosophical thinking demands dualism even if, in this sense, it probably isn’t philosophical at all. So Laruelle chooses dualism because is excludes the unitary philosophizing subject and the unity of his philosophical decision, but does not exclude, to the contrary, that which founds it – immanence of the One in itself as real, non-unitary, essence of Being, Difference, etc. The power of the NTT is a transcendental power in relation to the philosophical decision that takes root, in an abyssal way, in the One. It aims to transform the philosophical decision, to use it. This is why the dualism of the One and the NTT does not have the same meaning of truth as metaphysics, but is from the perspective of the One, which sets it up like Difference as “auto-positional”. While it is really immanent to the experience of the One, it makes not pretention to being the new unitary thinking about the One. Thus dualism, because it is implicated in the same trap as philosophical metaphysics, is not really an alternative, but it manifests the radical contingency of the (non-)One.


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